What are the top reasons for a misdiagnosis?
Say you go in to see your doctor for a headache. He tells you it is probably nothing, just a migraine perhaps. You should just take an aspirin and go home. Unfortunately, later you find out that it is something much more serious like a brain aneurysm. You probably would not survive. Medical advances continue to impress. Despite what should be considered good news in medicine, people are also being misdiagnosed at an alarming rate.
Can it happen to you?
According to a study in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, every year in the United States, roughly 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed. To break it down even more, that number means this misdiagnosis affects one out of every 20 patients. And according to researchers, in about half of those cases the misdiagnosis can possibly be deadly. The majority of the study focused on people being misdiagnosed in hospitals, but it also happens in doctor’s offices and outpatient clinics. So, how is it even happening? How can you be misdiagnosed?
Reasons for the medical errors
It sounds almost absurd: the idea that a highly skilled, trained doctor can diagnose you for having one thing and you have something completely different or the doctor can completely miss the disease altogether. While we are all human and we all make mistakes, doctors have a higher standard to uphold since lives are on the line. Unfortunately, for doctors, that mistake could lead to illness, injury or even death.
Some of the reasons for a misdiagnosis include:
- Problems with patients giving an incomplete medical history- which is imperative for doctors to have before making a proper diagnosis.
- Doctors ordering diagnostic tests and errors are made interpreting the results. These errors may be harmful to patients and lead to delays in treatment, lack of treatment, inappropriate or unnecessary treatment.
- Doctors do not do a thorough exam of the patient and something could be missed.
- Inadequate communication between doctors and patients.
You should also consider following up with your doctor with regards to your test results. That way you will be certain of a possible diagnosis.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a serious misdiagnosis, you should know your rights. Consider talking to a legal professional who can offer you advice.