Diagnostic errors affect millions of Americans each year

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Personal Injury

Maybe you noticed a constant sense of fatigue starting a few weeks ago, which then developed into a dry cough as well. Given that you just can’t seem to shake your symptoms, you go to see your doctor. You trust that they can examine you and possibly perform certain tests to determine the true cause of your symptoms.

Unfortunately, for millions of Americans every year, the doctors that they trust will fail to diagnose them properly when they need medical support. The doctor that you see might review your symptoms and tell you that you have a cold. They might recommend making a few dietary changes or taking a couple of days off of work to let your immune system do its job.

They may have jumped to conclusions when your underlying condition is actually lung cancer. The delay in diagnosis caused by their mistake could be the difference between someone recovering and someone dying. How frequently do doctors make mistakes about the true cause of someone’s illness?

There are millions of diagnostic errors each year

According to information analyzed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, doctors make a shocking number of diagnostic mistakes every year in the country. Experts estimate that there are roughly seven million medically-significant diagnostic errors that occur in the United States every year. As many as one in 18 emergency room patients might endure a diagnostic error.

In some cases, doctors diagnose someone with the wrong condition because they overlooked certain details or fail to perform certain tests. Reaching the wrong conclusion is an act of misdiagnosis. Diagnostic failure or an inability to diagnose someone at all is also a concern in modern medicine, as it may delay crucial treatment.

How do you prove diagnostic mistakes occurred?

Obtaining your medical records is an important first step toward holding a doctor responsible for their diagnostic mistakes. When other medical professionals review information about your case and readily state that they would have ordered other testing or reached a different conclusion, you may be able to claim that your doctor deviated from best practices in the medical profession.

A combination of expert testimony and your medical records can often help convince an insurance company reviewing a malpractice claim or the civil court that a doctor did not offer an adequate standard of care to a specific patient. Fighting back when diagnostic failures and other forms of medical malpractice affect your life can compensate you for the losses you suffer and prompt changes from the medical professionals who failed you.