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Study Finds Most Patients Experiencing Diagnostic Error Cite Poor Communication With Health Providers

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Patients with limited health literacy or low socioeconomic status who experienced a diagnostic error were most likely to cite poor communication with their health provider as a contributing factor, an AHRQ-funded study published in BMJ Quality and Safety has found.

Researchers surveyed nearly 600 people who reported experiencing a medical error caused by a delayed, missed or incorrect diagnosis. About two-thirds of the respondents (381 respondents) met the criteria for low health literacy or low socioeconomic status. The most common contributing factor reported by 69 percent of the participants was “healthcare providers not listening to the patient.” Other factors noted included teams of providers without a clear leader, no qualified translator or provider who spoke the patient’s language, inability to keep follow-up appointments and inability to pay for necessary care. The authors identified access to interpreter services as a “diagnostic safety imperative,” among others.

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