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How often do missed diagnoses occur?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Medical Malpractice |

Have you ever visited your healthcare provider regarding a health condition only for them to dismiss your concerns? You have a gut feeling that something is wrong, but the doctor is a medical professional, so surely, they must be right.

Actually, you may be surprised that missed diagnoses are not that uncommon.

A missed diagnosis can lead to serious complications

It’s difficult to know how often physicians fail to diagnose a medical condition because there is no formal reporting method; however, experts estimate it may be around 5%. While that may seem like a low percentage, consider that for every twenty patients a physician sees, they fail to diagnose one of them.

The five most missed conditions are:

  1. Colorectal cancer
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Breast cancer
  4. Heart attack
  5. Prostate cancer

There are several reasons why these errors may occur, such as

  • Failure to order the appropriate tests
  • Misinterpretation of test results
  • Lack of follow-up on abnormal test results

When physicians fail to diagnose a health condition, there is a delay in the patient receiving life-saving treatment. Early treatment often provides the best opportunity for a favorable prognosis. When a diagnosis is overlooked, it can result in the progression of the underlying health issue, leading to more advanced stages of the disease and causing irreversible damage.

Delayed treatment may reduce the effectiveness of treatment options and increase the risk of complications. Furthermore, the anxiety and stress that accompany an undiagnosed condition can exacerbate the overall health issue.

It’s crucial to understand that you must be your own health advocate. If you disagree with the physician, you must speak up and insist on further testing. You also have the right to see another healthcare provider for a second opinion. Understandably, you may be worried about offending your doctor; however, your life may depend on it.