Although a missed diagnosis such as that involving a stroke can occur in an emergency room or hospital setting, a missed diagnosis oftentimes stems from a primary care appointment. When a physician fails to diagnose a medical condition, the consequences can be significant.

Common Causes for Diagnostic Mistakes Made by a Physician

For certain medical conditions, the sooner treatment begins the more likely a patient will feel better. But for other diseases and illnesses, a timely diagnosis could prevent permanent disability or even death.

There are many reasons for a diagnostic error; it can be the result of a physician:

  • failing to perform a full examination;
  • not taking symptoms seriously; or
  • not obtaining an accurate patient/family history.

Oftentimes something goes wrong in the way of testing; for instance, not ordering the appropriate types of tests (or any at all). Or it could be the physician fails to see abnormal test results or doesn’t follow-up on the results.

Missed Diagnoses by a Physician: Types of Medical Conditions

The types of health conditions that are missed by a physician vary. But there are some that can be especially life-threatening when a mistake is made.

One example is cancer. For instance, a lump in the breast might be diagnosed as a cyst when in fact it’s a tumor. Or a persistent cough is assumed to be pneumonia when its lung cancer.

Not every diagnostic mistake results in severe consequences, but there are certain types of medical conditions that when missed by a physician could result in irreversible damage or even death. In addition to cancer, other examples of where a missed diagnosis can lead to life-threatening repercussions include heart failure, kidney failure, and stroke.

Filing a Malpractice Claim for Misdiagnosis

If the misdiagnosis results in serious injuries and damages, patients may consider filing a medical malpractice claim with an attorney. Jason Schultz can help patients examine whether the misdiagnosis is related to negligence, that is, failing to follow a standard of care.

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