When you book a doctor’s appointment, you expect your doctor to listen to your concerns, analyze your symptoms, run any necessary tests, and present you with a diagnosis. Unfortunately, if an error occurs at any time during this process, you, the patient, could be misdiagnosed. A misdiagnosis can be inconvenient and frustrating, but, more importantly, it can cause you severe harm.
Without the proper diagnosis, you might fail to receive time-sensitive treatment for your actual ailment, or you could suffer severe harm from the treatment for your misdiagnosed ailment. Although it may seem as if these types of issues are rare, a recent study published in the well-respected journal, BMJ Quality & Safety, found that roughly 12 million Americans who receive outpatient care suffer a misdiagnosis. In other words, an estimated 1 in every 20 patients is misdiagnosed in a U.S. medical facility each year.
But, what exactly does that number mean, and why are these misdiagnoses happening? To shed light on this issue, we’ve explained what these statistics mean, where the numbers came from, and why this issue is so prevalent.
Understanding Misdiagnosis Statistics
According to the BMJ, about 12 million Americans who visit outpatient facilities, (that is, medical care facilities that do not admit patients for overnight care), are misdiagnosed every year. This sounds like an astronomical number, and it is—it means about 1 in every 20 patients receives an incorrect diagnosis. According to additional research, about half of those individuals who receive a misdiagnosis are at risk of facing serious harm as a result.
Potential Harm: What Could Happen If I Was Misdiagnosed?
A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or another medical professional provides the patient with an improper medical finding. For example, a man may come to his doctor with a serious intestinal issue, but the doctor may misdiagnose the problem and call it the flu. Doctors are responsible for using their knowledge and expertise to listen to the patient, ask follow-up questions, and order any pertinent tests in order to learn more about the patient’s condition. It is the doctor’s responsibility to know which tests to order and to interpret those test results accordingly.
If a doctor fails to listen to the patient, misses key symptoms, or does not order pertinent tests, the doctor may make a key mistake when he or she makes an official diagnosis. However, doctors aren’t the only ones to blame. Misdiagnoses can also occur as the result of a hospital clerical error, a machine malfunction, a nurse’s mistake, or a misread lab test.
After a misdiagnosis, the patient may receive surgeries, medications, physical therapy, or other treatments that are not pertinent to his or her actual problem. In some cases, these “treatments” may have the opposite effect and can cause irreparable harm. For example, a patient misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer might have her ovaries removed, only to find out that she never had ovarian cancer. But, because of her misdiagnosis, she will still have to live with the loss of her ovaries and will never be able to carry a child.
Let Our Firm Help with Your Misdiagnosis
Were you misdiagnosed? If you were misdiagnosed or if your doctor delayed your diagnosis unnecessarily and you were harmed by their negligence or mistake, you could be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Misdiagnosis errors are very serious and can result in life-altering mistakes, which is why our firm is so passionate about pursuing justice for the wrongfully injured. If you were harmed, let our attorneys at Rash Mueller. help.
Contact Rash Mueller. today to discuss your case with our firm.