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Doctors Misdiagnose These 5 Diseases the Most

Doctors Misdiagnose These 5 Diseases the Most

When doctors fail to properly identify a disease or health problem, patients can experience life-threatening symptoms later on. In some cases, a disease progresses unchecked, spreading when it might have otherwise been contained if treated promptly. In the worst scenario, a patient may lose his/her life due to a doctor’s misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. 

According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, 1 in 20 adults in the United States each year seeks out urgent or outpatient care for a medical issue that is misdiagnosed. Over the course of their lifetime, the majority of Americans will receive some kind of incorrect or delayed diagnosis. This is a contributing factor in approximately 10 percent of all patient deaths.

When a patient is misdiagnosed or a doctor fails to diagnose a health condition or disease, a patient may go without potentially life-saving treatment. When doctors mistake one health condition for another, the patient may also receive treatment that is not actually needed. This can cause a patient to receive unnecessary and potentially harmful medications and/or procedures. 

Top 5 Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Diseases in the United States  

Tragically, some diseases and health conditions are misdiagnosed or simply missed on a regular basis. Here are the top five misdiagnosed health conditions in the United States. 

1. Heart Attacks 

Most people are familiar with the common symptoms of a heart attack. These symptoms can include chest pain that may shoot down the left arm as well as shortness of breath and dizziness. 

However, other health conditions can also mimic these symptoms, leading doctors to miss the signs of a heart attack. For example, a doctor might misdiagnose a heart attack as a gastrointestinal condition such as gastrointestinal reflux disease, commonly referred to as heartburn. This mistake is especially common in patients who are younger. Because heart attacks tend to occur in older adults, some doctors may dismiss a younger patient’s symptoms because they don’t believe someone that young could suffer a heart attack.

According to a study published by Diagnosis, patients who are young as well as patients who are African American have the highest rate of missed heart attack diagnosis. 

2. Cancer

Certain types of cancer make up 10 percent of all doctor-reported missed diagnoses in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Because doctor-reported numbers are likely to carry bias, it’s possible that the actual number of missed cancer diagnoses is somewhat higher. 

Among all cancers, lung, breast, and colorectal cancers are the ones doctors miss most often. In the majority of cases, doctors missed these cancers because they delayed sending the patient for a biopsy after a screening returned an abnormal result. 

3. Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism happens when a patient forms a blood clot – typically in one or both legs that then travels to the lungs. In a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, 4.5 percent of all diagnostic mistakes involved pulmonary embolism.  Pulmonary embolism is a particular worry after surgery or any prolonged period of immobility. Pulmonary embolism is a potentially fatal event and needs to be treated on an urgent basis. 

4. Drug Overdose

In a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, diagnostic errors involving drug overdoses accounted for 4.5 percent of missed diagnoses. In most cases, the drugs involved included prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet. 

The report stated that many of these patients tended to be older and have a number of ongoing, long-term health conditions, which could cause doctors to overlook drug overdose as a potential cause of their condition. However, drug overdose is a growing problem, with opioid overdoses quadrupling since 1999.  

5. Stroke

According to the BMJ Journal, about 9 percent of patients with stroke are misdiagnosed. The signs of a stroke vary and can often look like a different health problem. Patients may report feeling confused, dizzy, or experiencing a sudden lack of coordination. They may also suffer problems with their ability to speak clearly.

Talk to a NYC Medical Malpractice Lawyer About Your Misdiagnosis Case

If you have experienced a delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or misdiagnosis due to a doctor’s medical mistake, it’s important to speak to a New York City medical malpractice lawyer right away. You may be able to obtain compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, future medical costs, lost wages and lost earning potential.   


Jonathan C Reiter Law Firm

Jonathan C Reiter Law Firm