Doctors working in hospital emergency departments face chaos, violence and high stress every day, and usually they get the diagnosis and treatment right. But, and it’s a big but, as often as one in seventeen ER visits ends with a misdiagnosis, which can have deadly consequences. Those medical misdiagnosis are newly estimated by Johns Hopkins medical school researchers as a significant peril for patients across the country.
Doctors in the too-often harried ER environs fail to correctly “identify serious medical conditions like stroke, sepsis and pneumonia,” leading to the deaths of as many as 250,000 patients each year, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center found in their work for a federal health care oversight agency. The New York Times reported this of the work:
“The study, released [Dec. 15] by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, estimates roughly 7.4 million people are inaccurately diagnosed of the 130 million annual visits to hospital emergency departments in the United States. Some 370,000 patients may suffer serious harm as a result. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University, under a contract with the agency, analyzed data from two decades’ worth of studies to quantify the rate of diagnostic errors in the emergency room and identify serious conditions where doctors are most likely to make a mistake. Many of the studies were based on incidents in European countries and Canada, leading some officials of U.S. medical organizations to criticize the researchers’ conclusions.