Total serious harms extrapolated to affect 795,000 in U.S., with 15 dangerous diseases accounting for half of serious harms
Misdiagnosis of dangerous diseases results in an estimated 795,000 Americans with permanent morbidity or mortality, according to a study published online July 17 in BMJ Quality & Safety.
David E. Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of U.S.-based nationally representative observation data to estimate the annual U.S. burden of serious misdiagnosis-related harms (permanent morbidity and mortality). Annual incident vascular events and infections were estimated from 21.5 million sampled U.S. hospital discharges (2012 to 2014), and annual new cancers were obtained from U.S.-based registries.
The annual U.S. incidence was 6.0 million vascular events, 6.2 million infections, and 1.5 million cancers. The researchers found that per ‘Big Three’ (15 major vascular events, infections, and cancers) dangerous disease cases, the weighted mean error rate was 11.1 percent and serious harm rate was 4.4 percent. Total serious harms annually in the United States was extrapolated to be 795,000 for all diseases (including non-‘Big Three’ dangerous disease categories). Using more conservative assumptions, sensitivity analyses estimated 549,000 serious harms. The 15 dangerous diseases accounted for 50.7 percent of total serious harms, with the top five accounting for 38.7 percent.
“Research and quality improvement programs should include a strong focus on prompt diagnosis of vascular events, infections and cancers, with an emphasis on the top 15 dangerous diseases identified in this study, which together likely account for half of all serious misdiagnosis-related harms,” the authors write.
One author is inventor on a provisional patent and serves as medical-legal consultant.