When you go to a doctor, you should feel confident that you will receive a proper diagnosis for your condition. This is a crucial step to receive the right treatment and improve your health. Some patients are not so fortunate because their health care provider incorrectly diagnoses their condition.
According to Healthline, the consequences for misdiagnosis can be dire. Every year, an estimated 100,000 patients suffer permanent disability or death because they did not receive the right diagnosis in time. Doctors do not misdiagnose all conditions equally. Some health issues are more prone to errant diagnosis than others.
Most common misdiagnoses
Healthline reported that a study by Johns Hopkins University discovered three kinds of conditions account for most misdiagnoses. Cancers rank first, followed by vascular events and infections. Of the specific conditions misdiagnosed, stroke, sepsis and lung cancer were the top three, followed by heart attacks, meningitis, encephalitis, serious blood clots, as well as skin, prostate and breast cancers.
How misdiagnoses happen
There are a number of reasons why these misdiagnoses occur. As Healthline explains, the vast majority of these errors in diagnosis happened inside an ambulatory setting, which may include doctor’s offices, an ambulatory surgical center or a dialysis clinic. Generally, ambulatory settings involve care performed on an outpatient basis and do not involve admission to a hospital.
Some misdiagnoses happen because of failures to conduct tests or other procedures properly. Sometimes a doctor focused on too narrow of an area when making a diagnosis or a health care worker did not order a consultation or diagnostic examination. Other failures include not interpreting diagnostic tests correctly or an improper evaluation of test results or symptoms.
Preventing a misdiagnosis
While medical professionals have a responsibility to diagnose and treat you properly, you can still be proactive in your own care. Asking questions of a doctor may help you to understand how your doctor arrives at conclusions regarding your condition. You may also seek a second opinion from another doctor if you have suspicions about a diagnosis.