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Misdiagnosis of three conditions causing the most harm

When we do not feel like we should, we turn to doctors to tell us what is wrong and how to fix it. After all, medical professionals have a duty to provide the best possible care to each and every patient. That means they should do their best to determine what an individual’s health problem is and treat it effectively.

Unfortunately, diagnostic errors are some of the most common medical mistakes that doctors make. And a 2019 report found that the misdiagnosis of only a few health conditions caused patients across the nation the most harm.

Misdiagnoses of the “Big Three” harm the most patients

In 2014, CBS News found that 1 in 20 patients suffer serious harm because of misdiagnoses across the country. That number could have significantly increased since then, and that number is already far too high.

And yet, a 2019 report states that the misdiagnoses of only three health conditions make up 74% of these serious cases. These conditions are known as the “Big Three,” and include:

  • Cancer, including lung cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer;
  • Cardiovascular events, such as a stroke or heart attack; and
  • Infections, such as sepsis and meningitis.

The misdiagnosis of these three conditions often leads patients to suffer a permanent disability or death.

This news is alarming. Officials may see it as an opportunity to prevent misdiagnosis in the future, but that does not stop the harm that diagnostic errors are causing now.

What can patients do?

If patients in Michigan or across the U.S. suspect that their physician gave them an incorrect diagnosis, they must ensure they speak up for themselves. Individuals should make sure that they:

  • Voice their concerns to their doctor;
  • Research their symptoms thoroughly; and
  • Request a second opinion from another physician.

Almost every medical error is preventable. And if most of the harm caused by misdiagnoses results from three conditions, patients should take courage to speak up – especially if they worry they are suffering from one of the “Big Three” conditions.

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