How Dangerous is a Misdiagnosis?

A diagnostic error is extremely dangerous and a leading cause of medical malpractice incidents in Pennsylvania according to a recent Patient Safety Advisory issued by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.

According to the Advisory, diagnostic errors are responsible for twice as many adverse outcomes as medication errors.  A diagnostic error is a mistake that leads to an incorrect diagnosis, a missed diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis.  Diagnostic errors are found in every specialty of medicine.  While some specialties have relatively low (less than 5%) rates of diagnostic errors, others have higher rates of errors (in the 10-15% range).

Why are Conditions Misdiagnosed?

There are many reasons why a medical condition may be misdiagnosed.  For example, a doctor can simply make an error in thinking and fail to come to the correct diagnosis based on the symptoms and test data presented.  Additionally, poor communication between medical professionals can lead to a misdiagnosis as can incorrect test results, incorrect test labeling or handling, and other systemic problems.

While not all misdiagnoses are harmful, most have the potential to cause harm or even death.  You do not have to assume that your doctor’s diagnosis is correct.  If you are unsure about a diagnosis seek a second opinion.

If you have been hurt, or if you have lost a loved one, due to the failure to properly diagnosis your condition then seek the assistance of a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer for more information about your potential legal recovery.