A new study shows reason for concern about the accuracy of diagnoses made at U.S. outpatient facilities. The study was led by a patient safety expert who just received an award from President Obama for his work. Researchers found that just over 5 percent of adults who go to a community health clinic or emergency room are misdiagnosed. Further, according to the study, in these cases there was enough information available for a correct diagnosis in one visit.
Five percent may not sound like a lot, but the study estimates that it adds up to 12 million people annually and that half of these patients could suffer harm because of diagnostic errors. Another doctor and patient safety expert says that while the study provides more substantial data than previous analyses, the numbers are still likely lower than the reality. "I would say this is a minimum," he asserts.