should med schools reassess how they develop diagnostic skills

When it comes to the notion of medical errors, most people understand there is always some risk their treating physician will do something wrong. For instance, they know mistakes can be made regarding the treatment pursued, the medication prescribed and the surgery performed.

What people seem to have a harder time understanding and accepting, regarding medical errors, is the notion of a misdiagnosis. Specifically, they have a difficult time accepting how a physician could possibly make such a fundamental mistake given both the depth of their training and the availability of advanced testing.

The unfortunate reality when it comes to diagnostic errors is they can and do occur with alarming regularity. To illustrate, consider the following statistics:

  • Misdiagnoses are responsible for anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 patient fatalities per year in the hospital setting.
  • Misdiagnoses occur at a rate of around one in every 20 patients per year in the outpatient setting with roughly half of these patients developing some type of serious condition.
  • Misdiagnoses account for nearly 17 percent of all so-called adverse medical events per year.
  • Misdiagnoses were estimated to have cost anywhere from $102 to $154 billion in 2011 alone.

All of this naturally begs the question as to why and how these misdiagnoses are occurring on such a grand scale.

Interestingly enough, several experts are attributing some of the problem not to the individual physician, but rather to the longstanding techniques employed by medical schools to train our nation’s future healers.

We will continue this discussion in our next post, exploring what exactly these experts believe is wrong with the traditional clinical apprenticeship approach used to develop diagnostic skills. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you or a loved one has been victimized by what you believe was a misdiagnosis made by any sort of medical professional.

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