The brightest point in the spotlight on diagnostic errors centers on major and significant errors like cancer misdiagnoses that occur in major hospitals. However, with all this focus on major diagnostic errors in hospitals, we seem to have missed out on the fact that that errors like these occur almost every day in primary health care clinics around the country. While they may not be major errors in the sense that they usually involve common and frequent conditions like bronchitis, but that doesn't change the fact that patients are put to great suffering and trauma as a result.
According to a new study that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, primary care physicians are just as likely to make diagnostic errors as physicians in large hospitals. In fact, primary care physician-related errors usually encompass a wide range of common conditions, like urinary tract infections or anemia.
However, there has been very little research into the causes of errors that occur in primary care physician offices across the country. That’s partly because there's very little attention paid when a primary care physician makes a diagnostic error, leading to hospitalization for patients. In contrast, misdiagnosis in a hospital makes headlines and very often results in a medical malpractice lawsuit.