It’s frustrating to be sick and not know what’s wrong with you. It’s even more frustrating that doctors don’t always take the time to listen to their patients. Far too often, symptoms get dismissed as “just stress” instead of getting the attention that they deserve. Months (or even years) later, you learn that you actually have a serious medical condition that needs treatment.
Here’s a scary statistic that you always have to keep in mind: one out of every 20 patients who seek outpatient treatment for their medical problems will end up being misdiagnosed. Diagnostic errors are to blame for roughly 10% of patient deaths.
What are the most commonly missed or misdiagnosed illnesses?
- Breast, lung and colorectal cancer account for around 10% of all diagnostic errors
- All other cancers combined contribute to nearly another 10% of misdiagnoses, especially when doctors fail to order biopsies
- Heart attacks, particularly in women and African-Americans who don’t present with “classic” symptoms or test results
- Pulmonary embolisms, which can be mistaken for ordinary asthma, pneumonia or even a panic attack
- Strokes get a delayed diagnosis in about 9% of emergency room visits, leaving patients much worse than they might have been with timely treatment
- Drug overdoses, amazingly, can be overlooked — especially when doctors have a patient that they don’t perceive to be likely to abuse or overdose, like older patients with chronic conditions
No matter what the issue, a condition that is misdiagnosed can lead to unnecessary treatments while (at best) your real problem continues, untreated. A missed diagnosis can leave you in a position where you will never fully recover your health. These types of errors often happen because doctors are overworked, tired or simply rushed — but that’s no excuse. If you or your loved one was misdiagnosed, it may be time to talk to a medical malpractice attorney about your options.