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Misdiagnosis is the most common medical error

by | Apr 27, 2018 | Blog

If a doctor misdiagnosed your illness, chances are you and your family spent weeks, months or even years struggling to make sense of it. Apparently, somewhere along the chain, beginning with your first symptom complaint, someone missed something. As a result, your illness was allowed to progress unchecked. Any treatment you received did little to relieve your suffering and may even have exacerbated the situation.

Sadly, you are one of millions who receive incorrect diagnoses or for whom doctors simply dismiss their symptoms. Most frequently, misdiagnoses occur with patients who have cancer, leaving many to die from an illness that may have been curable if the medical team had properly diagnosed it. Even more than errors in surgical procedures, a missed diagnosis is becoming the most common medical mistake in the country.

Where mistakes originate

When you described your symptoms to a doctor, this was the first part of your diagnosis. Your doctor could have listened carefully, asked questions and run tests until arriving at an answer. If this did not happen, your physician probably missed many clues that would have helped him or her discover the root of your ailment. Diagnosing an illness is not a fast or easy process. Often, it requires attention to minute details and the exploration of unlikely options. The common process for coming to a diagnosis includes these and other steps:

  • Asking you for a thorough medical history
  • Reviewing your family’s health history
  • Doing a complete physical exam
  • Running tests, including radiography and lab work
  • Studying the results of the tests
  • Consulting with other experts

At any point during this process, a doctor may miss an important piece of information. It becomes more probable that your doctor will fail to make an accurate diagnosis if he or she skips any of the first three steps. Missing critical details from your personal or family history can send a diagnosis off course until it is too late to recover.

The results of a missed diagnosis

Despite this, more than half of diagnostic errors occur in the testing phase. With cancer patients, this is disturbingly common in the interpretation of radiological tests. Missing signs of cancer or other diseases can cause a delay in life-saving treatment, requiring additional testing and leaving you struggling with your symptoms without relief.

If you are suffering following an incorrect or missed diagnosis, or if you have recently lost a loved one whose doctor missed a deadly cancer, you have recourse to legal professionals in Tennessee who can assist you in holding those doctors accountable.


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