A 2014 study published in the BMJ Quality and Safety Journal found that over 12 million Americans are medically misdiagnosed annually. Misdiagnosis can occur when a doctor improperly identifies a disease, medical condition, or injury. Patients who are misdiagnosed often incur additional expenses as a result of the false diagnosis, and may even encounter serious or permanent injuries because of their medical treatment after a misdiagnosis.
The most commonly misdiagnosed diseases are aortic dissection, cancer, clogged arteries, heart attack, and infection. Misdiagnosis occurs most often in emergency settings. Common causes of misdiagnosis include an incorrect reading of a test, failure to report a blood test in a timely manner, errors in reporting or inquiring after a patient’s medical history, failure to follow up with a patient, and failure to request further testing when appropriate. When a doctor or medical team incorrectly identifies a patient’s health issues, the patient becomes at risk for injuries or further health complications that could be avoided by proper treatment.
If a doctor or health professional inadvertently engages in medical malpractice by incorrectly diagnosing a patient and their misdiagnosis leads to injuries to the patient, the patient has the option to hold these professionals responsible for injuries caused by negligence. A patient may be able to demonstrate harm, even if his or her true condition is ultimately treated. For example, if a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis in a patient with cancer causes the disease to advance so that the patient has to undergo a more serious form of treatment (such as chemotherapy) than they would have needed otherwise, the patient can prove that their misdiagnosis led to additional harm.
Holding medical professionals accountable for misdiagnosis may seem like a daunting task, but it can be incredibly important. It helps to ensure that misdiagnosis do not occur in the future, and it can help to drastically improve the lives of patients who have been injured or experienced harm as a result of negligence in their medical treatment. If you have been affected by medical negligence, consider partnering with an experienced law firm to explore your options.