How can a medical professional get a diagnosis wrong?

Most of the time, individuals visit medical facilities when there is a problem. Only occasionally, a physician is visited for a regular, preventative check-up. Urgent care facilities, hospitals, emergency rooms and health clinics are trusted to investigate and diagnose a health issue – and develop a course of treatment to correct it. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for diagnosticians to either cause a delay in reaching a correct diagnosis or miss the mark entirely.

What conditions are commonly misdiagnosed?

There are a variety of factors to examine and symptoms to explore in any diagnosis. Some diagnoses can be complicated because various conditions share the same or similar symptoms. Unfortunately, while there is a broad range of tests that can be performed, they are rarely 100 percent accurate – and results can often be misinterpreted.

There are certain conditions that seem to fall victim to missed or delayed diagnoses, including:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Heart attack
  • Infection

According to various surveys, observational studies and research analyses, there are several obstacles to reaching a correct, timely diagnosis, including:

  • Incomplete communication during care transition: Whether the patient is transitioned from one doctor to another or across facilities, information must be completely and accurately shared between everyone. A failure to note dangerous drug interaction or a previous course of treatment could be deadly.
  • Lack of measures and feedback: There are currently no standardized measures for providers in specific or facilities in general to track their performance in the diagnostic process. Being able to recognize training, material or equipment deficiencies is an important step in correcting institutional issues.
  • Limited time: It’s hard to place any sort of blame in this category, but many patient complaints must be acted on quickly. Medical professionals see a patient’s health rapidly deteriorating and want to quickly step in with treatment. Unfortunately, dealing with a truncated timetable can limit the number of tests that can be performed … as well as the amount of time spent consulting or considering the diagnostic implications.

Unfortunately, even with knowledge of all these potential obstacles, mistakes do happen. A patient’s condition can worsen in the interim and it’s possible that an entirely wrong condition begins to receive treatment. If you or a loved one suffered a missed or delayed diagnosis, it is wise to seek the legal guidance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Do not hesitate to seek the monetary compensation you are owed.