You would probably be very surprised to know how high your risk of a medical misdiagnosis really is. A recent study found that more than twelve million American adults may have been affected by diagnostic errors–that’s one out of every twenty patients. Further, at least 50 percent of these misdiagnosis errors are potentially very harmful. Patients who have a rare disease, or those who have a relatively common disease with an unusual presentation, are most likely to receive a medical misdiagnosis.
The most commonly medical misdiagnosed illnesses include the following:
1. Blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
Unexplained shortness of breath, as well as anxiety, sweating, and chest pain can all be symptoms of a pulmonary embolism, yet is often missed by healthcare professionals. Each year there are more deaths associated with pulmonary embolisms than from car accidents, lung cancer, and AIDS combined. A 2013 study concluded that a full third of patients with symptoms of pulmonary embolism were sent home from the ER with no interventional care having been provided.
The Journal of Clinical Oncology found that cancer misdiagnoses occur as often as 28 percent of the time. The five most commonly misdiagnosed cancers are colorectal cancer, melanoma, hematological cancer, breast cancer, and gynecological cancer. Doctors claim this high rate of misdiagnosis is due to inadequate time for evaluation of the patient, medical histories which are incomplete, and missing information.
3. Heart attack
Some people have absolutely no symptoms of a heart attack at all, older people’s symptoms are not the same as those of younger people, and men’s heart attack symptoms are not the same as those of women. Some people feel a crushing chest pain, while others experience only slight discomfort from what feels like indigestion. Yet, according to the CDC, as many as 600,000 people die each year from a heart attack. A heart disease diagnosis may be missed because symptoms such as backache, indigestion, shortness of breath, weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting and fatigue can be attributed to the flu, GERD, gallstones, or even muscle aches.
4. Doctors may have a hard time diagnosing Lyme Disease
If there is no bull’s-eye rash on the patient, yet many cases of the disease are not accompanied by the rash. Lyme Disease, caused by a tick bite, can have such symptoms as nausea and vomiting, a stiff neck, stomach cramps, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Patients can suffer with the symptoms of Lyme Disease for as long as fourteen months before obtaining an accurate diagnosis.
5. Chronic illnesses
Characterized by joint pain, sleep problems, extreme fatigue, joint pain, rash, and anxiety are often mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis, when in fact the diseases may be Fibromyalgia or Lupus.
6. Thyroid Disease
Can cause such symptoms as weight changes, pain in the muscles and joints, weakness, and fatigue.
People who are chronically depressed may have symptoms which are somewhat vague and that overlap with other conditions. Irritability, sadness, chronic tiredness, problems concentrating, and insomnia can all point to depression.
8. Celiac disease
Patients with celiac disease are unable to properly digest gluten, and will suffer from such symptoms as weight loss, cramping in the extremities, anemia, vomiting and diarrhea, and pain in the abdomen. Many people can go as long as a decade without a proper diagnosis.
Tens of thousands of those with symptoms of a stroke go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed each and every year. Most often, these patients are believed to be under the influence of alcohol, or to have vertigo or migraines. A Johns Hopkins study took a look at more than 200,000 stroke patients and found that nearly a full one-sixth of those patients visited the ER up to a month before their stroke with complaints of severe headaches and dizziness. Doctors are thirty percent more likely to misdiagnose a stroke in a woman or a minority patient and in those younger than 45. Potentially as many as 165,000 strokes are misdiagnosed each year.
They are believed to be the number one most commonly misdiagnosed illness; however this is likely due to the sheer number of cases. A misdiagnosed infection can potentially be fatal.
A medical misdiagnosis can completely alter your future.
If that misdiagnosis would not have been made by another well-trained, reasonable physician, you may have a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you have suffered serious injury from a medical misdiagnosis, it could be beneficial to speak to a medical malpractice attorney who can assess your case and determine whether you are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.
If you or someone you love has been misdiagnosed or harmed during a medical procedure, the Philadelphia Law Firm of McLaughlin & Lauricella PC, can help. Our team of lawyers consists of some of the best medical malpractice attorneys in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and we will fight aggressively for you throughout the legal process.
The medical malpractice attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., have more than 68 years experience representing patients and their families across Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, and Northampton counties.
We area also proud to serve injured patients throughout the State of New Jersey. Contact us today at 215-568-1510 or fill out our confidential contact form to learn more about your legal options.