Misdiagnoses may be more common than many Oklahoma residents realize. The Institute of Medicine has put forth a conservative measure that one in 20 adults have a wrong, missed or delayed diagnosis annually. Over time, this means that at some point in their lives, more Americans than not will receive a wrong diagnosis. This results in around 10 percent of patient deaths.
Some conditions are more likely than others to be misdiagnosed. Breast, lung and colorectal cancer are often missed, and this happens most often because doctors do not follow up with a biopsy after abnormal test results. Heart attacks might be mistaken for other conditions because symptoms may not include pain in the left arm or chest. For example, fatigue, dizziness and other flu-like symptoms may be a heart attack.
Pulmonary embolism also resembles other conditions. Because it has symptoms similar to the common cold or pneumonia and requires a series of tests to diagnose, doctors can be led astray by a single false negative. When drug overdoses occur in unexpected populations, doctors may overlook it. For example, an older patient may overdose on a prescription drug, and this may be missed. Finally, strokes are often mistaken for migraines or occur over a series of days so the symptoms are missed.
A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis may have profound consequence for a patient and their families. It may result in a poorer prognosis, worse health or even death. For example, many cancers have a better outcome the earlier they are diagnosed. A doctor might neglect to follow up on symptoms of colon cancer because the patient is not in the usual demographic for the disease. Patients who have suffered a worsened medical condition due to a misdiagosis may want to have the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney in seeking compensation for the resulting damages.