Doctors have become increasingly reliant on high-tech diagnostic equipment, but it's so inaccurate or used so badly that it accounts for 59 per cent of all insurance claims against doctors.
Of these, 30 per cent of patients died as a result of a delayed or wrong diagnosis.
Out-patient diagnostics that harm - or kill - the patient are common, a study that analysed the results from four US insurers concluded.
Sadly, the doctor can't blame it all on computer technology. Claimants complained that doctors failed to take a proper history and examination, ordered the wrong test, or didn't follow-up properly. In all, 99 per cent of all claimants said, as part of their claim, that doctors were not thinking straight, or were making bad decisions, or forgetting things or "not knowing them in the first place".
The diagnostic process sometimes stretched into years, and involved a range of healthcare staff. The most likely to suffer from diagnostic failures were people with breast or colorectal cancer, whose illness was invariably not detected in time, if at all.(Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, 2006; 145: 488-96).
E-news broadcast 19 October 2006 No.302[Subscribe]