The effects of a medical misdiagnosis are dangerous

Fact — most Americans will get misdiagnosed or get a diagnosis that is late in coming at least once in their lives, the effects of which can be serious if not catastrophic. According to patient safety experts, diagnoses that are missed, incorrect, or delayed are thought to occur in 10-20% of medical cases which far exceeds medication and surgical errors.

Diagnostic errors occur for many reasons, including a lack of collaboration among doctors, patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals. And, while advances in medical technology have really helped to improve the diagnostic process, inaccurate test results due to human error, misreading of test results, or faulty diagnostic equipment can all lead to medical misdiagnosis.

Diagnostic errors are not limited to hospitals. Until recently, medical misdiagnosis taking place in doctors’ offices, surgical centers, and other outpatient facilities have been relatively understudied and unmeasured when it comes to patient safety vs hospital errors. But, a recent study estimated that diagnostic errors affect about 12 million adults each year or 5% of adults seeking outpatient care.

As a patient, you should make sure that you’re accurate in describing your symptoms to your doctor. Inform him or her about past treatments, if applicable, whether they were helpful, and any side effects that you had. Keep records of test results, referrals, and other resources such as hospital admissions and an accurate list of medications for your doctor.

Misdiagnosis leads to medication issues

Common misdiagnosis includes:

  • Diagnosing the wrong disease
  • Failure to diagnose in a reasonable amount of time
  • Correct diagnosis of a condition but underlying cause is not correctly identified
  • Side effects from medications taken as a result of a misdiagnosed illness or condition

If a physician misdiagnoses his or her patient, that patient may be prescribed the wrong type of medication. This could result in complications and devastating side effects if the patient doesn’t have the condition or illness the drug prescribed is used to treat. In addition, a misdiagnosis may result in the physician prescribing the wrong dosage of a medication or providing incorrect directions for how frequently to take the drug.

Making it right

Misdiagnosis is a form of negligence or medical malpractice, resulting in a lack of proper treatment and/or medication for an individual. This can have disastrous consequences for a patient, for example, that has cancer which isn’t correctly diagnosed at an early stage.

If you or a loved one suffered a worsening medical condition or death due to a medical misdiagnosis, you may be eligible for damages. The San Diego law firm of Scott S. Harris has been helping victims of medical malpractice for over 30 years. Where misdiagnosis cases are concerned, our job is to determine whether the error was caused by negligence on the part of the doctor, hospital, or other healthcare professional.

If you believe that you or family member has been a victim of a medical misdiagnosis, contact Scott S. Harris, attorney for medical mistakes, to schedule your free initial consultation.