Most Americans undergo yearly physicals and visit the doctor when they’re sick, expecting the highest standard of care from medical professionals. But an estimated 12 million Americans experience medical diagnostic mistakes annually, causing anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 deaths. Women and minorities may be up to 30 times more likely to experience a medical misdiagnosis.
While doctors may misdiagnose a rare disease, often relatively common diseases are also misdiagnosed due to an atypical presentation which may result in a doctor not ordering the appropriate diagnostic tests—a common basis for medical malpractice lawsuits.
By understanding the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions, you may be better able to protect your own health by being proactive in your healthcare.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers
Cancer remains a leading cause of death worldwide. Studies suggest that doctors misdiagnose 10% to 28% of cancer cases. Some types of cancers result in more misdiagnoses than others. The most commonly misdiagnosed cancers include:
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Thyroid cancer in children
- Pancreatic cancer
Sadly, our Boston cancer misdiagnosis lawyers have seen many of these commonly misdiagnosed cancers not properly diagnosed until metastases cause secondary symptoms at stage 4. In some cases, patients may receive a diagnosis of the wrong type of cancer, in which case, the patient may undergo incorrect treatment since chemotherapy medications vary according to cancer type.
In less frequent instances, a patient may erroneously receive a diagnosis of cancer where no cancer exists, causing them to undergo unnecessary treatments with dangerous health risks and long-term consequences.
Misdiagnosis Of Conditions That Require Immediate Medical Treatment
Unfortunately, some commonly misdiagnosed conditions are those requiring immediate medical treatment to minimize harm or prevent death. Evaluating doctors may not order the proper diagnostic tests because they overlook symptoms or fail to recognize atypical symptom presentation. For instance, heart attacks present differently in women compared to men and present differently in younger people compared to older. The most commonly misdiagnosed emergency medical conditions include:
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolism
- Infection and sepsis
Stroke symptoms may present similarly to intoxication or vertigo. Misdiagnoses of these emergency medical conditions are the most likely to result in serious injury or death.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Chronic Medical Conditions
Besides cancer and emergency medical situations, some other commonly misdiagnosed chronic medical conditions include the following:
- Lyme Disease
- Thyroid Disease
- Celiac Disease
By missing the proper and timely diagnosis of these chronic illnesses, patients may miss months or years of treatments that could greatly improve the quality of life and prevent worsened illness.
When Is a Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?
Some misdiagnosed illnesses result in little or no harm, but other medical errors have catastrophic consequences. Not every misdiagnosis qualifies for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our team of specialized Boston medical misdiagnosis attorneys know that in order to meet the standard of medical malpractice, a case must have the following points:
- A professional doctor/patient relationship must be proven
- The doctor did not meet the accepted standard of care because he or she committed an act of negligence or failed to treat the patient in the way that a reasonable physician would have in the same circumstances
- That the negligence resulted in harm, including physical and economic damages to the misdiagnosed person
When someone suffers worsened illness, exacerbated disease, or fatality due to a misdiagnosed medical condition they or their surviving loved ones deserve justice and could be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Seeking expert help from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Boston can get you the compensation you deserve.