How common are medical misdiagnoses?

Doctors are only human, so they can make mistakes. Unfortunately, a mistaken diagnosis can lead to serious consequences for a patient.

There are at least 12 million people who receive the wrong diagnosis here in the U.S. annually. These errors result in up to 80,000 people losing their lives, and women and minorities have almost a 30% higher chance of receiving a misdiagnosis than others. 

Why do medical misdiagnoses occur?

A medical mistake can happen to anyone — in any medical facility or doctor’s office. However, diagnostic errors are likely to arise from one of the following problems related to clinical judgments:

  • A doctor doesn’t listen carefully to a patient’s medical history
  • A patient’s problems are blamed on environmental factors or stress
  • A doctor fails to consider all of the patient’s symptoms and focuses on a very narrow issue
  • The appropriate diagnostic tests that would rule in or rule out a condition are never ordered
  • Diagnostic tests are ordered but are not properly interpreted

The vast majority of diagnostic errors tend to take place in emergency rooms and outpatient clinics, suggesting that time constraints and pressure on the medical providers or poor communication among staff members contribute to the problem. 

You have rights if a doctor misdiagnosed you

A doctor who renders an inaccurate or delayed diagnosis puts you at risk of not fully recovering from your ailment or even dying. Missouri law may allow you to hold a negligent physician liable for their errors. That can provide you and your family with the money you need to secure a better future and prevent someone else from suffering a similar problem.