High Rates of Misdiagnosis Among Pediatricians | DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog

A survey released by the American Academy of Pediatrics about the frequency of and reasons for errors in patient diagnosis shows that over half (54%) of the pediatricians that responded make an error in diagnosis one to two times a month.  This number increased to 77% when trainees were given the same survey. Forty-five percent of those surveyed reported that they had made a diagnostic error one to two times a year which harmed the patient.

The most commonly reported diagnostic error was the confusion between viral and bacterial illnesses. Other common errors include the incorrect diagnosis of:

  • appendicitis,
  • psychiatric disorders, and
  • side effects from medication.

Reported reasons for the incidence of errors included:

  • inability to acquire adequate information through the patient history,
  • inability to review chart adequately,
  • inability to obtain a complete exam.

A noted reported system failure was lack of teamwork.

As acknowledged by the pediatricians who participated in the survey, the rate of errors in diagnosing is too high.  Possible strategies for error reduction in diagnosis include:

  • electronic medical records, and
  • closely following-up with patients.