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Intensive care unit misdiagnoses are preventable

Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) wrote in the Annals of American Thoracic Society journal on Aug. 1 that identifying common intensive care unit (ICU) diagnostic errors and reducing them is critical.

The study’s authors found that as much as 20 percent of all patient-doctor encounters result in diagnostic errors. They note that the risk of critically ill patients being misdiagnosed is significantly higher than it is for others also.

Two factors that make diagnosing critically ill patients difficult is that physicians are often unable to physically examine or interview them. Coordinating their care tends to be more complex as well.

Diagnostic errors, which often take the form of system-based or cognitive failures, tend to affect critically ill patients on a deeper level than nonICU patients. They’re not only costly to address, but often result in their death.

The MCW researchers suggest that doctors can benefit from taking note of situations involving the missed diagnoses of ICU patients and learning from them. By apprising themselves of the errors that have occurred and placing increased attention on the patient and teamwork, they argue that diagnostic errors will be greatly reduced.

They also argue that medical providers can more effectively make diagnoses by using health information technology already in existence.

Doctors who work in the ICU often are required to make last minute, critical decisions that may save a patient or take their life. Proving that a medical provider’s misdiagnosis of a patient resulted in them suffering injuries or death isn’t easy to do. You’ll want to have a Chicago medical malpractice attorney who’s backed up by a team of health care specialists to assess your case to determine if negligence indeed occurred.

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