To many people, medical malpractice involves a surgeon operating on the wrong part of the body or a pharmacist dispensing the wrong drug. They associate malpractice claims with dramatic and obvious mistakes.
While those are certainly common forms of malpractice, there is another, a more insidious form that negatively affects millions of Americans every year. When you go to your doctor reporting symptoms, you trust them to determine the cause and diagnose you.
Unfortunately, doctors may jump to conclusions or ignore patient-reported symptoms, leading to potentially catastrophic diagnostic errors. Overworked doctors and those who carry deep-seated prejudices may be more likely than others to make a mistake while diagnosing a patient. How often do these mistakes have a noteworthy medical impact on patients?
American doctors make millions of diagnostic errors every year
According to research into medicine in the United States, approximately 12 million Americans every year have to deal with a diagnostic error made by a medical professional. In some cases, the doctor fails to diagnose them or there is a dangerous delay in their diagnosis. Other times, a doctor misdiagnosis them with the wrong condition.
Failed or delayed diagnoses can be dangerous because they prevent someone from getting the treatment they need. Misdiagnosis is equally dangerous because receiving treatment that is unnecessary can be worse than receiving no treatment at all. Of the millions of Americans impacted by diagnostic errors each year, between 40,000 and 80,000 of them will die as a result. Others will have lasting medical consequences because of a diagnostic mistake.
Recognizing how common diagnostic mistakes actually are could help you identify a possible case of serious medical malpractice that has impacted your family.