A new study suggests that misdiagnosis may be more common in primary care
than many think. In fact, missed or wrong diagnoses may be putting thousands
of San Diego patients at risk of complications each year.
In the latest study, researchers used electronic health records to track 190
medical diagnostic errors made during primary care visits at two healthcare facilities. The most
frequently observed missed diagnoses involve conditions commonly treated
by primary care physicians. They included pneumonia (6.7%), decompensated
congestive heart failure (5.7%), acute renal failure (5.3%), cancer (primary)
(5.3%), and urinary tract infection or pyelonephritis (4.8%).
While a number of factors contributed to the medical errors, the researchers
found that the failure to obtain an accurate patient history, perform
a full exam or order the proper tests caused most of the problems. Even
more alarming, the majority of the errors were not harmless. Of the 190
patients with diagnostic errors, 36 resulted in serious, permanent damage
while 27 were fatal.
“If you look at the types of chief complaints that these things occur
with, they’re fairly common chief complaints,” said Dr. Hardeep
Singh, who led the new study at the Houston VA Health Services Research
and Development Center of Excellence.
“If somebody would come in with mild shortness of breath and a little
bit of cough, people would think you might have bronchitis, you might
have phlegm… and lo and behold they would come back two days later
with heart failure,” he told
If you or someone you love has suffered from a medical error, don’t
contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney
at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a