Hospital emergency rooms provide diagnoses and treatment to 130 million patients every year. Unfortunately, a new study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that not every ER patient gets the care they require. Johns Hopkins University researchers, who were hired to conduct the study, found that at least 7.4 million people nationwide are misdiagnosed in emergency rooms annually, with 370,000 of them being placed at risk of serious injury as a result.
Other key findings
The study shows that most medical professionals make accurate diagnoses, but nearly 6% of patients are misdiagnosed. Researchers also found that women and minorities were 20-30% more likely to be misdiagnosed. Overall, 2% suffered an adverse effect, and 3% were severe.
Reasons for misdiagnoses
According to the study, as many as 250,000 people die every year because they are misdiagnosed in an emergency room. This may be because doctors initially fail to identify common but serious medical conditions like stroke, sepsis and pneumonia. About 39% of misdiagnoses occurred in patients who presented to the ER with heart attack, stroke, embolism, aneurysm and spinal cord damage.
What to do if you are misdiagnosed
Those who believe they or a loved one were misdiagnosed and suffered serious, permanent consequences as a result should consult with a medical malpractice attorney.