When someone goes to the doctor with a health complaint of some kind, there is an expectation that the medical professional will do whatever he or she can to figure out what is going on. Unfortunately, getting the diagnosis wrong or not coming up with any diagnosis can cause harm to the patient.
Misdiagnoses are common, and they can lead to more serious illnesses or death.
Facts and stats about misdiagnoses
According to Healthline, errors related to medical diagnosis affect an average of 12 million people every year. Up to 80,000 patients die annually from complications from misdiagnoses. There is a 20% to 30% greater chance that minorities and women will receive the wrong diagnoses.
Experts explain that patients can help prevent diagnostic errors by asking more questions, going for a second or third opinion and communicating more frequently with the medical provider when things do not seem right.
Conditions with the most significant diagnostic errors
Medical News Today reports that not only are diagnosis errors a common issue, but they also cause serious harm. This is especially true when looking at three conditions: cancers, infections and vascular events. More than 33% of diagnostic errors that lead to permanent disability or death had to do with cancers. Next was 22% for vascular issues and 13.5% for infections.
Of these conditions, the specific ones that most often resulted in serious harm were stroke, lung cancer and sepsis. Others included meningitis, heart attacks, skin cancer and blood clots in the lungs. Most of these mistakes occurred in an outpatient or emergency setting, while the main cause of misdiagnoses is failure in clinical judgment.