One of the most important things that a doctor will do for you is diagnose your medical condition. You need them to make sense of your symptoms and connect you with the right kind of treatment.
Unfortunately, doctors frequently make diagnostic mistakes that not only prevent their patients from getting necessary treatment but can also lead to unnecessary and even harmful care for a condition they don’t have. Identifying some of the more commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions can help you hold your doctor accountable for a diagnostic failure.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous conditions for doctors to fail to diagnose is cancer, and it is also among the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions. A doctor might notice the skin rash and chalk it up to an allergic reaction or scabies rather than lymphoma. They might assume that a cough is a sign of a cold rather than an early warning sign of lung cancer. Delays in cancer diagnosis can mean the difference between surviving and dying.
Strokes and heart attacks, especially in women
Dangerous cardiac and neurological events can present different symptoms in different people. The diagnostic criteria that doctors use for heart attacks and strokes focus more on the symptoms typically presented by men and older adults, rather than on how young people and women might experience a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, that means that people in desperate need of emergency care may not receive it in a timely manner.
Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that can impact someone’s quality of life and their ability to keep a job. Doctors often ignore early signs of fibromyalgia or diagnose the condition as something else. Patients may undergo extensive treatment before they realize that the true cause of the symptoms is fibromyalgia.
Patients who have undergone inappropriate treatment or who did not receive possibly life-saving treatment after reporting their symptoms to their doctor may have a medical malpractice claim based on the failure to diagnose them properly.