Misdiagnosis could affect 12M U.S. adults annually, study finds

This headline is not news to readers of Cracking Health Costs. I continue to be delighted that  the “mainstream” media is waking up to this sort of thing. For decades they merely blasted insurers for high rate increases and ignored the prime drivers of high health costs.

This headline was taken from a Reuters article by Curtis Skinner. Click here to read the full article.  Writes Skinner, “Roughly 12 million adults who visit U.S. doctors’ offices and other outpatient settings, or one in 20, are misdiagnosed every year, a new study has found, and half of those errors could lead to serious harm.” 

One in twenty is 5%, of course, but that statistic really understates the problem.  The few “outliers” who spend 80% of plan dollars and have complex health problems are misdiagnosed at a rate of 10-20%.

There is huge variation between health centers in terms of making diagnostic errors, huge. Solution: send your “outliers” to clinics that have a good history of getting complex diagnoses right and offering best treatments as well.


Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price.  Click here:  Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of Edison Health. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.




  1. Rick Chelko says:

    Great point. The article below points out that diagnostic errors are the biggest driver in malpractice claims – and more harmful on average than medication and treatment errors. Incorrect, missed or delayed diagnoses accounted for 29 percent of successful malpractice claims. They accounted for 35 percent of the total amount of money paid out and caused 39 percent of malpractice-related deaths. Since these errors often take awhile to be discovered, they are not readily measured through objective claims data.

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