Diagnostic Errors

Facts to consider:

  • 10% of initial medical diagnoses are wrong and contribute to between 40,000 and 80,000 deaths in the US each year. That’s comparable to annual deaths from breast cancer. (2)
  • According to a study by Johns Hopkins, 13% of stoke victims on their initial visit to an ER are sent home without proper diagnosis or treatment. (1)

What you need to consider:

  • Every patient needs an advocate, especially if the patient is unable to express his or her concerns.
  • Doctors are human and humans make mistakes. If the doctor’s diagnosis doesn’t feel right, push back.
  • If it’s important, get a second opinion from an independent medical professional.


  1. Merrill Goozner, “Editorial: Diagnosing Wisely,” Modern Medicine, 25 September 2015 (republished, 6 April 2017). http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150926/MAGAZINE/309269984
  2. Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. http://www.improvediagnosis.org/

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