Annual Patient Safety Awareness Week focuses on diagnostic errors

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Most residents of Columbus, Ohio, would probably say that patient safety is an issue that should on the minds of medical providers each and every day. Recognizing that there is room for improvement where patient safety is concerned, each year the National Patent Safety Foundation sponsors a week focused on the matter. This year, it is taking place this week.

The focus this year’s campaign, titled “Navigate Your Health…Safely,” is on the prevention of diagnostic errors. In observing the week the NPSF has created educational materials that highlight how to avoid misdiagnosing a medical condition. These materials were distributed to a variety of individuals and entities including:

  • Consumers
  • Patients
  • Health systems
  • Clinicians

The NPSF was aided in this endeavor by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine.

The failure to diagnose can result in a patient suffering more than they otherwise would and could require more aggressive treatment. In some instances problems with a diagnosis could be even more serious and lead to death. According to experts in the field, annually, between 40,000 and 80,000 deaths could be due to issues with a diagnosis.

While any steps that can be taken to reduce the number of injuries patients experience as a result of the medical care provided is a good thing, it is unlikely that they will completely be eradicated anytime soon. Fortunately, patients who are harmed as a result of the failure to diagnose, or a misdiagnosis, do have options. It is possible that they could file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physicians and other individuals responsible for care that is lower than the standard expected.

Source: National Patient Safety Foundation, “Patient Safety Awareness Week,” Accessed March 3, 2014