Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer: Misdiagnosis – It Is What It Isn’tOctober 22, 2012
The National Patient Safety Foundation offers a warning to medical patients: Sometimes your diagnosis is the most likely thing that is wrong, but it may not be the right thing. Why? Because misdiagnosis is one of the most common medical errors, and one of the most costly in terms of medical malpractice claims nationwide.
Misdiagnosis — which encompasses not only making the wrong diagnosis, but also delayed diagnosis and failure to diagnose at all — plays some role in the majority of medical malpractice cases, according to the website rightdiagnosis.com. In emergency-room-related cases, for instance, statistics show that more than half involve some form of diagnosis error.
Misdiagnosis can cause patients to undergo costly, painful, and debilitating treatments unnecessarily, or it can allow an overlooked illness to advance far beyond the stage where it might have been treated successfully. In some cases, unfortunately, the misdiagnosis is not identified until the patient undergoes an autopsy.
What conditions are most likely to be misdiagnosed? Although the list varies among sources, the number one culprit is universally acknowledged to be cancer, especially breast, lung, colorectal, melanoma and cervical cancer. That includes both diagnosing cancer where none exists, and failing to diagnose cancer when it does.
Other leaders in misdiagnosis include:
- Heart attack (especially in women)
- Clogged arteries
- Celiac disease (gluten sensitivity)
- Thyroid problems
- Bone fractures
- Aortic dissection (which famously killed actor John Ritter after he was treated for a heart attack and released).