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A report issued by the federal Institute of Medicine (IOM) said that most people will receive at least one wrong or delayed diagnosis in their lifetimes that could result in missed treatments or even death.

“Diagnostic errors persist throughout all settings of care and continue to harm an unacceptable number of patients,” researchers wrote.

These errors contribute to approximately 10% of patient deaths and are, according to the report, “the leading type of paid malpractice claims and are almost twice as likely to have resulted in the patient’s death compared to other claims.”

What the report didn’t say, however, is that, in states where doctor-prescribed suicide is legal, a misdiagnosis of terminal illness can cause a patient to request and take legally prescribed lethal drugs and die, when the patient was not terminally ill in the first place.

The IOM report said that improving the diagnostic process is imperative, otherwise “diagnostic errors will likely worsen as the delivery of health care and the diagnostic process continue to increase in complexity.” [IOM, “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care,” 9/15]

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