As many as one in six patients treated in NHS hospitals and GPs’ surgeries is being misdiagnosed, experts have warned.
Doctors were making mistakes in up to 15 per cent of cases because they were too quick to judge patients’ symptoms, they said, while others were reluctant to ask more senior colleagues for help.
While in most cases the misdiagnosis did not result in the patient suffering serious harm, a sizeable number of the millions of NHS patients were likely to suffer significant health problems as a result, according to figures. It was said that the number of misdiagnoses was “just the tip of the iceberg”, with many people still reluctant to report mistakes by their doctors.
There was a call for better reporting methods to ensure that each misdiagnosis was recorded and monitored properly.
Prof Graham Neale, of the Imperial Centre for Patient Safety and Service Quality at Imperial College London, who is carrying out research into cases of misdiagnosis in the NHS, said it was a problem that was not being adequately dealt with.
“There is absolutely no doubt that this is being under-reported,” he said. “But more importantly they are not being adequately analysed.
“Trainee doctors are too quick to judgment, that is one of the problems that we face.”