Monday, September 18, 2023

The Impact a Medical Misdiagnosis Can Cause


The Impact a Medical Misdiagnosis Can Cause

Medical misdiagnosis is more common than the average person expects and is frequent enough that many people will delay going to the doctor or scheduling medical checkups.

Sometimes this goes as far as people completely neglecting appointments and avoiding seeing medical experts they may not completely trust, resulting in lifelong, sometimes fatal, results.

Money, distance, and time are all obstacles to getting proper medical care for whatever condition, and misdiagnosis exacerbates all of these. Medical misdiagnosis is the next hot topic and big-button issue in the world of medicine.

Medical misdiagnosis is a complicated matter that is expensive and time-consuming to solve, and while there is no surefire plan or solution to improving and ultimately reducing medical diagnostic error, there are ways to protect oneself and reduce the harm from a misdiagnosis. Knowledge is power, and can be very helpful should your life suddenly be affected by a medical misdiagnosis.

Misdiagnosis: What Qualifies?

Different medical misdiagnosis can be separated into different types, but these are typically organized into three categories:

  • wrong diagnosis: an incorrect medical decision, and usually what people think of as a misdiagnosis
  • missed diagnosis: an unexplained condition typically mistaken for another disease or illness
  • delayed diagnosis: the most frequent type, when a diagnosis is made too late or when symptoms worsen or persist

Infections, cancers, and vascular issues remain the most misdiagnosed conditions, and according to the front page of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine website, “one-third of malpractice cases that result in death or permanent disability stem from an inaccurate or delayed diagnosis”.

Consequences of Medical Misdiagnosis

Advances in medicine and medical procedures mean that symptoms can be the result of more conditions than most people think.

This leads to medical experts making incorrect decisions, and the effects can seriously impact a patient’s life. The list of effects is long and daunting and includes:

  • Side effects or complications due to drug intake of the wrong type and/or amount of drugs
  • Severe, debilitating pain
  • Allergic reactions
  • Complications or worsening of the condition due to delayed diagnosis
  • Increased stress
  • Affected nerves
  • Wrong treatment or surgery
  • Development of another condition
  • Expenses and loss of money
  • Injury
  • Death

What is the Financial Cost of Medical Misdiagnosis?

Researchers at John Hopkins Medicine conducted a study between 1986 to 2010, finding that “diagnosis-related payments amounted to $38.8 billion” in that time frame. Some estimates “exceed $100 billion per year” as a result of unneeded tests, insufficient treatments, and medical malpractice claims. 

Diagnostic Errors and Taking the Legal Road

“An estimated 12 million Americans suffer a diagnostic error each year in a primary care setting— 33% of which result in serious or permanent damage or death."

Are there any means of protection from medical misdiagnosis? In the United States, laws regarding medical malpractice will vary by state as there are no federal laws. And a misdiagnosis does not automatically equal a medical malpractice lawsuit.

For any sort of lawsuit to have support, there would have to be proof of an action that results in the condition persisting or worsening. Delaying or withholding treatment, or any sort of improper medical care, would be the grounds for claiming medical malpractice.

Diagnosis is unfortunately not perfect. There are a small array of symptoms to express such a wide range of illnesses, diseases, and conditions, and even the most seasoned of doctors are bound to make a mistake every once in a while. 

Conditions can hide some symptoms initially, then display them later, ensuring that some illnesses can fly right under the nose of even the most watchful medical expert.

It is best to find a local lawyer or law firm that specializes in medical malpractice claims and contact them. You can save yourself and many others a lot of trouble if you ask before jumping into a lawsuit. Have all relevant paperwork ready, and if there are pictures, screenshots, emails, or voicemails that can help your case, be careful not to lose any of that evidence.

What Can a Patient Do?

The onus is on the medical care providers to be cautious and account for everything with every patient, including getting additional opinions for a pre-diagnosis. For the proactive patient, there are a few pieces of paperwork that may be able to significantly reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis:

  • List of medications and supplements taken
  • Copies of bloodwork and lab work
  • Written/ typed questions about the condition or symptoms
  • Progress chart of symptoms
  • Written/typed medical history


Medical misdiagnosis is the biggest issue for both healthcare patients and providers, despite the advances made in the world of healthcare.

There are certain types of misdiagnoses, but all can have permanent, life-altering effects that cannot and should not be ignored or taken lightly. There is a huge financial and societal toll from the sheer amount of medical misdiagnosis that affects people as a whole, and this fact will not change overnight.

However, there are a few ways to utilize personal and legal means to prevent medical misdiagnosis, or at least to ‘soften the blow'. There is a considerable effort by medical experts to solve the issue of misdiagnoses, with the end goal of making healthcare better for the human community at large.

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