When you seek medical care, you expect your doctor to carefully review your symptoms and test results before rendering the correct diagnosis. But have you ever considered the chance that he or she might get it wrong? Unfortunately, you might already be suffering the consequences of a misdiagnosis.
A misdiagnosis is when a doctor diagnoses a patient with an incorrect illness, completely missing the patient’s actual disorder. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine conducted a study and found that inaccurate diagnoses — including misdiagnoses — are the most common type of serious medical error. Misdiagnoses are also cited in 33% of all medical malpractice lawsuits that cause permanent disability or death.
Tens of thousands of people are dying
Annually, as many as 80,000 people die in hospitals because of misdiagnoses. Doctors providing primary care are responsible for another 12 million diagnostic errors every year. Nearly 75% of diagnostic errors that cause the most harm relate to the so-called big three:
- Cancer – 37.8%
- Vascular events – 22.8%
- Infection – 13.5%
Doctors most frequently render cancer diagnostic errors when dealing with lung cancer. When it comes to vascular events and infections, doctors most frequently misdiagnose strokes and sepsis. These are all serious medical illnesses that require proper care and treatment.
Diagnostic errors are widespread
That same study confirmed that misdiagnoses and other diagnostic errors are not only the most common medical error but are also the most catastrophic. These errors are also the most costly for the health care system when it comes to medical malpractice claims. The majority of wrong diagnoses come from just one source too.
The study points to a failure to close the loop for cancer patients in particular. Doctors usually diagnose patients with cancer after a longer period of time and series of visits. It is up to doctors to connect the dots and render a correct diagnosis, but many end up giving cancer patients the wrong answer.
Getting the help you need
It does not matter whether you visited the doctor once or spent months advocating for yourself; if your doctor made a mistake, he or she made a mistake. Your doctor is the one who went to medical school and who is supposed to provide expertise regarding your health. Now you are suffering the consequences of his or her mistake.
This is a scary time in your life. You may be facing an uncertain future and extensive medical treatments to address your misdiagnosis, which likely come with hefty medical bills. You do not have to be alone during this emotionally trying time though. When seeking compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit, you could work closely with an experienced Kentucky attorney who is ready to guide you through the process.