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How common is medical misdiagnosis?

No one wants to get a serious illness. But if you are suffering from symptoms that are affecting your ability to work or enjoy everyday life, you want an answer to what might be wrong with you.

Unfortunately, an estimated 10-20% of people will receive a medical misdiagnosis when they are seen by a doctor. And misdiagnosis leads to about 10% of hospital deaths, according to the Journal of American Medical Association.

Why patients are misdiagnosed

Patients receive a misdiagnosis because now doctors spend less time with patients during visits, they may rely too much on specialists or medical testing when diagnosing patients and the human body may not make a correct diagnosis easy all the time.

While receiving multiple medical tests to diagnose a problem may seem like a step in the right direction, in the end, doctors need to give the correct tests to diagnose a condition. Also, tests don’t always give accurate results 100% of the time.

Commonly misdiagnosed conditions

Some of the most common deadly conditions that doctors misdiagnose include the following:

  • Heart attack: Older people and women are most likely for a misdiagnosis because of unclear symptoms, including no chest pain.
  • Stroke: Doctors may not diagnose young people because they don’t expect them to suffer a stroke. Other stroke victims can show up in the ER complaining of dizziness and headaches, but doctors mistakenly send them home.
  • Aortic dissection: This is where a patient’s aorta has a tear in the wall, which can be fatal. It can present many different symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose.
  • Pulmonary embolism: Doctors can mistake a pulmonary embolism for a heart attack or pneumonia.

Some conditions that are difficult to diagnose and aren’t as life-threatening, but do have symptoms that cause a significant impact on a patient’s overall health include lupus, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or Celiac’s disease.

Avoiding misdiagnosis

Patients can avoid misdiagnosis by knowing their medical history and completing medical forms completely. They also should give doctors a list of any over-the-counter medications they are taking and ask a lot of questions about a diagnosis or possible different diagnoses. Seeking a second opinion also is a good way to avoid a medical misdiagnosis.

If you or a loved one have received a medical misdiagnosis that has left you facing a shorter lifespan or caused a loved one’s death, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. You may be entitled for compensation for the pain and suffering the misdiagnosis caused.