Study: Diagnostic Errors Death Equal Breast Cancer Deaths

Posted 31 August 2012 | By

A study by Johns Hopkins researchers claim medical mistakes in the intensive care unit (ICU) kill as many as 40,500 patents per year, as many deaths as breast cancer patients suffer.

The researchers examined more than 5,800 autopsy reports from various ICUs. The study said not all missed errors contributed directly to patient death, but that patients in ICU were twice as likely to suffer a fatal misdiagnosis.

"Our study shows that misdiagnosis is alarmingly common in the acute care setting," Dr. Bradford Winters, lead author of the study, said in a release. "To date, there's been very little research to determine root causes or effective interventions."

Winters said doctors face an overwhelming amount of information in a distracting environment without being able to communicate effectively with their team. He said the ICU is a "very complex environment" where the sickest patients compete for attention.

Safety experts say the study highlights a need to pinpoint causes of misdiagnosis and find solutions for patients to more accurately be assessed.

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