When people in Massachusetts and all over the country seek treatment for a medical problem, they are expecting to have the issue diagnosed accurately and resolved properly. However, the failure to diagnose cancer and other diseases is a prevalent problem that is happening more frequently than other medical errors either during surgery or because of drug mix-ups. There are often errors in diagnosing a patient’s medical problem leading to delayed treatment, worsened condition and spread of disease. In many instances, these mistakes are fatal.

It is believed that as many as 10 to 20 percent of diseases are misdiagnosed. This is a mistake that happens far more often than surgery on the wrong part of a patient’s body or mistakes with medication, which are two other issues that are dangerous to the health and well-being of patients. Studies have examined this phenomenon and discovered startling and worrisome gaps between what is found and what is missed.

One study discovered that 28 percent out of 583 mistakes that doctors made and reported anonymously were of the life-threatening variety, or, worse ended with the patient’s death or led to disability. Another analytical study found that fatal mistakes in diagnosis equaled or surpassed the 40,500 people who died due to breast cancer in a single year. Even common problems that doctors encounter such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia are often misdiagnosed.

Given the number of errors that are made and the fact that they place patients in jeopardy, it’s imperative to know what to do when this happens. In many instances, these mistakes are made in emergency rooms. This is because the doctors or staff may not know the history of the particular patient, could be rushed in their diagnosis and aren’t experienced enough to look for signs that a more seasoned physician would see.

In any event, misdiagnosis can lead to terrible results. For those who were affected by a failure to diagnose cancer or some other illness and who have suffered because of it, it is worthwhile to discuss the matter with a legal professional well-versed in medical mistakes.

Source: Washington Post, “Misdiagnosis is more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery,” Sandra G. Boodman, accessed on Oct. 28, 2014