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How common is a medical misdiagnosis?

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When you seek medical care because you know something is wrong with your health, you may worry about if your doctor will get your diagnosis right. If he tells you have cancer or multiple sclerosis, you want to make sure he’s correct. If your provider is wrong, you wouldn’t be the first person to suffer from a misdiagnosis.

In fact, according to a 2017 study by the Mayo Clinic, about 20% of patients facing a serious illness or disease were misdiagnosed. That means that for every 10 patients who may be suffering a life-altering illness, only two are diagnosed correctly. Some patients may not have their condition diagnosed correctly until it already has impacted their health severely, known as a delayed diagnosis. Both a missed diagnosis and delayed diagnosis that permanently alters a patient’s life, or shortens their life, can be grounds for medical malpractice.

What serious conditions are most misdiagnosed?

Some of the most common serious illnesses that are misdiagnosed include the following:

Seeking a second opinion

Because of how common missed diagnoses are, patients who are diagnosed with a serious disease, such as cancer, always should seek a second opinion from a different health care provider. Having a second opinion can confirm your diagnosis or raise questions about it.

You may learn more about how serious your illness or disease is and how to treat it.

You also should seek a second opinion if you’ve sought medical treatment for an illness, but the treatment is not working. You may discover your diagnosis wasn’t correct initially and you need to try other treatments to regain your health.

Becoming informed

If you do end up facing cancer, heart disease or a suffering stroke, read up as much as you can about your condition. You may find out more about advances in treatments so you can be a better advocate for your health.

You will face times in your life when your gut tells you something is wrong. Don’t dismiss your intuition. Seek multiple consultations if you feel your diagnosis is incorrect. If you do suffer long-term health problems from a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney. You want to hold medical providers accountable so that others won’t face the same issue.


Article written by:

Cook & Tolley, LLP
304 E Washington St
Athens, GA 30601
(706) 549-6111

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