Medical misdiagnosis: What are the causes?

Physicians who have misdiagnosed a patient with a condition they do not have can potential cause serious injury.

When people in Michigan pay a visit to their doctor's office, they often expect to receive an answer as to what is affecting them, as well as possible treatment options. Although many people put their trust and confidence in these medical professionals, mistakes can occur. Physicians may diagnose patients with the wrong condition or fail to give a diagnosis at all. Not only can this potentially lead to medical complications, but it may cause serious long-term injuries and even death.

The facts behind medical misdiagnosis

A study published in BMJ Quality & Safety reported that medical misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose occurs more often than some people may think. At least 12 million people who are treated in outpatient clinics and emergency rooms in the United States are victims of this type of medical negligence each year. Researchers also reported that approximately half of these patients are seriously injured as a result of misdiagnosis.

A look at the causes

There are several factors that can lead to medical misdiagnosis in outpatient and emergency room settings. First, patients who are seen in these settings are usually not established with the physicians at the clinic and the doctor may not have their full and accurate medical history available. In addition, ERs and clinics are often chaotic and physicians may be rushed to see a number of patients in a limited amount of time. A condition that might be more in-depth and complicated to diagnose may get overlooked as something more simple.

Furthermore, physicians could order the wrong type of screening test or may misread the test results. For example, a cloudiness in the lungs may get misread as pneumonia when it is actually lung cancer. Doctors who work long and strenuous hours may feel fatigued and overworked. Medical negligence is also a problem in medical institutions across the United States.

Complications of misdiagnosis

Patients who have been misdiagnosed may experience exacerbated symptoms while the wrong condition is being treated. They may be taking unnecessary medications, undergo medical treatments or even surgeries that they would not have needed. In addition to costing extra money, the patients are forced to go through a recovery period for a surgery that they never needed.

Getting the legal help you need

Patients who have been victimized by wrongful diagnosis, medical negligence or any other type of malpractice may want to find legal representation. An attorney in Michigan may offer answers to your legal questions and help to point you in the right direction when it comes to obtaining compensation.