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August 2014 Archives

The high incidence of diagnostic errors

Although positive strides are made and reported in relationship to many areas of medicine, North Carolina residents may be surprised to learn that little improvement has occurred in records of misdiagnosis. Issues of concern may include incidents of an incorrect diagnosis or a failure to diagnose. Various studies have explored the issue, and some experts estimate that diagnostic errors may occur in at least 10 percent of cases.

Certain kinds of hospital mistakes no longer reported publicly

An article published on August 6 in USA Today highlighted steps taken by the federal government to restrict public access to information on eight kinds of hospital mistakes, referred to as 'hospital acquired conditions" (HACs) by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Leaving foreign objects in patients during surgery and air embolisms were among those eight HACs no longer being reported publicly. Until August 2014, information on those conditions was still available via a public spreadsheet offered by CMS, but that data can no longer be accessed. CMS is now reporting occurrence rates for only 13 HACs.

Questions for North Carolina patients to ask their doctors

While it is easy to assume that a doctor knows what he or she is doing, the truth is that there are risks inherent in any surgical procedure, and the possibility of adverse effects from medication errors is greater than one might think. With that in mind, here are some things that a doctor won't necessarily tell a patient unless he or she specifically asks about them.

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