Correct diagnosis is at the heart of effective medical care. Unless a physician accurately identifies what is wrong with the patient, proper care is unlikely to occur. And if a diagnosis is missed or delayed too long a medical condition can worsen, resulting in serious harm to the patient. New York readers may be surprised to learn that one of the most potent solutions to the problem of misdiagnosis is greater patient involvement in the diagnostic process.
According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, most Americans will experience an incorrect or delayed diagnosis at least once in their lives. According to the study, diagnostic mistakes account for 17 percent of all adverse events affecting hospital patients and 10 percent of patient deaths. Not surprisingly, mistaken diagnoses are a major source of medical malpractice claims.