A recent report from the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence reveals that sepsis is a significant contributor to misdiagnosis-related deaths and disabilities in the United States. In fact, it is among the top five diseases responsible for approximately 40% of such cases. Each year, an estimated 795,000 Americans suffer death or permanent disability due to misdiagnosis, where they are wrongly diagnosed with a different condition.
The report identifies the five primary diseases frequently misdiagnosed as Stroke, Sepsis, Pneumonia, Blood clots, and Lung Cancer. The researchers emphasize that a 50% reduction in diagnostic errors for these conditions could prevent around 150,000 cases of permanent disability and death. This finding encourages medical care providers to concentrate their efforts on improving accuracy in these specific areas.
Until now, the general public has not been fully aware of the extent of medical misdiagnosis in the United States. Previous estimates of annual incorrect diagnoses have varied widely. However, according to this report, approximately 371,000 patients lose their lives, and 424,000 experience permanent disabilities each year due to incorrect diagnoses across various healthcare settings.
The staggering number of misdiagnoses constitutes a public health emergency, as stated by the lead author of the report, Dr. David Newman-Toker, who also serves as the director of the Johns Hopkins Diagnostic Excellence Center. He emphasizes that diagnostic errors are the most neglected public health crisis, lacking adequate resources to address the severity of the problem.
Because a small number of diseases account for a large share of the problem, researchers are hopeful that medical care providers can focus their efforts in specific areas to reduce misdiagnosis.