Study suggests more die from errors in acute care than from breast cancer
Here's a medical shocker. Diagnostic errors in the intensive-care unit may be responsible for more deaths each year than breast cancer.
That's what researchers at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine discovered after reviewing studies examining diagnostic blunders detected through autopsies.
They reported that 28 percent of patients had at least one missed diagnosis at the time of their death. This came after a review of 31 studies involving 5,863 autopsies.
In eight percent of cases, diagnostic error directly contributed to or caused the person's death.
In more than three-quarters of those instances, undetected vascular problems such as heart attacks and strokes, and infections were responsible.
"Our study shows that misdiagnosis is alarmingly common in the acute care setting," lead author Dr. Bradford Winters said in a university news release.
Medical error was in the news a couple of years ago when actor Dennis Quaid told CBS that his newborn twins nearly died in 2007 because of a screwup involving drugs at a Los Angeles hospital. He has since become a strong advocate for patient safety.
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