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Diagnostic error: far from an underwhelming medical concern

It's certainly reasonable to assume that the bottle of pills you're now carrying out of a Ventura County pharmacy that were prescribed by your doctor contain the correct medication for dealing with your diagnosed medical condition, right?

If you want an updated answer to that question, one is likely forthcoming relatively soon, and we will be sure to pass along the details. The influential U.S. Institute of Medicine is slated to weigh in next month with a revised report regarding the degree to which medical misdiagnosis is -- and persistently continues to be -- a problem in American medicine.

You might be familiar with the IOM's 1999 report, which stunned many people at the time with its estimate of 98,000 people killed annually across the United States owing to medical mistakes (that number has been revised subsequently to reflect a much higher number).

Notably, and as reported in a media expose on diagnostic error, diagnosis mistakes were not even considered in that report.

They'll be featured front and center in the updated product, and could make for some very interesting reading.

Here's why: One estimate concerning faulty diagnoses already posits that wrong doctor calls are made in as many as 15 percent of all cases. Extrapolated nationally beyond the medical clinic you might have recently visited, that percentage relating to botched diagnostic evaluations equates in human terms to recurring errors in many millions of instances.

There are myriad reasons why doctors make diagnosis-related mistakes. We will take a look at some of them in our next blog post.

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