The New York Times – As many as 250,000 people die every year [685 per day on average] because they are misdiagnosed in the emergency room, with doctors failing to identify serious medical conditions like stroke, sepsis and pneumonia, according to a new analysis from the federal government.
The study, released Thursday 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 …
“This is the elephant in the room no one is paying attention to.”
“This is the elephant in the room no one is paying attention to,” said Dr. David E. Newman-Toker, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University and director of its Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence, and one of the study’s authors.
The findings underscore the need to look harder at where errors are being made and the medical training, technology and support that could help doctors avoid them, Dr. Newman-Toker said.
“It’s not about laying the blame on the feet of emergency room physicians,” he said …
Medical societies representing emergency room doctors strongly criticized the study.
Dr. Christopher S. Kang, the president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said in a statement:
“In addition to making misleading, incomplete and erroneous conclusions from the literature reviewed, the report conveys a tone that inaccurately characterizes and unnecessarily disparages the practice of emergency medicine in the United States” …
“Nearly 6% of the estimated 130 million people who go to US emergency rooms every year are misdiagnosed, which translates to about 1 in 18 patients getting the wrong diagnosis. … Stroke was missed 17% of the time, often because people reported symptoms of dizziness and vertigo. When they entered the ER, 40% of patients who had those two symptoms had their stroke missed initially. ” – CNN