According to a recent study published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, 1 in 20 patients will be misdiagnosed every year. That is approximately 12 million adult patients who have illnesses or conditions misdiagnosed annually. Researchers of the study believe that half of misdiagnosed cases result in severe harm to the patient.
Medical misdiagnosis may occur when the correct diagnosis for a patient's medical condition, illness or injury is missed, delayed or incorrectly diagnosed. This may result in delayed treatment, incorrect treatment or no treatment at all, which can cause the condition to worsen. In some cases, a misdiagnosis may even result in the patient's death. It is true that mistakes happen in all facets of life, even in the medical field. However, there are also situations where a misdiagnosis is not considered simply a mistake, but malpractice.
Malpractice or a mistake?
Medical malpractice may have occurred if the doctor was negligent in the level of care he or she provided to the patient. To establish negligence the following must be proven:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed, which created a duty of care to the patient,
- the treatment provided by the doctor was not in line with the standard of care owed to the patient (standard of care or treatment that would be provided by an average doctor practicing in the same field under similar circumstances), and
- the doctor's breach of care resulted in injury to the patient.
- In cases of misdiagnosis, a thorough investigation into the cause of the patient's injury is key. This may include investigating the patient's medical records, condition, treatment, medical tests, any associated bills and review by medical experts.
According to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), some common reasons for misdiagnosis include:
- Failing to get a full medical history (not asking the right questions or rushing through the history)
- Ordering the wrong tests
- Interpreting diagnostic test results incorrectly
- Overlooking symptoms
There are also some commonly misdiagnosed conditions to be aware of, such as cancer, heart attack, blood clots, heart disease, stroke, infections and celiac disease (BMJ Quality & Safety).
Reduce the risks of misdiagnoses
It isn't possible to control whether or not your doctor will make a mistake. However, according to WebMD, there are some steps patients can take to reduce their risk of receiving a misdiagnoses. Some tips include, write down all of your symptoms, have copies of your medical records (including tests and results), bring all your medications, know your family medical history and don't self diagnose.
Even if you do everything you can to reduce your risks of a misdiagnosis, it may still happen. If you believe you have suffered injury due to a delayed, incorrect or misdiagnosed medical condition, you have the right to hold the responsible party accountable. Contact Attorney Alan D. Bell at 973-233-4291 to discuss what occurred and evaluate your case. A negligent doctor can cause life-altering injuries, you have the right to protect yourself and seek compensation for the harm you have suffered.