The Prevalence of Misdiagnosis
Errors in diagnosis can occur when doctors fail to diagnose a certain condition, make an incorrect diagnosis, or do not correctly diagnose a condition in time to properly treat it. These are the most common type of medical errors which occur in the United States, and they are also likely to result in a patient’s death or disability. In fact, studies have shown that between 80,000 and 160,000 people become permanently disabled every year because of misdiagnosis.
Misdiagnosis can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Failure to evaluate a patient - An incorrect diagnosis may result from a doctor failing to complete an appropriate evaluation of the factors affecting a patient’s health, including their family medical history.
- Lab errors - Misdiagnosis may occur due to errors made during testing, such as equipment that was not functioning properly, samples that were contaminated, reports that were mixed up, or a technician that failed to follow the proper testing procedures.
- Misread lab reports - A doctor may make an improper diagnosis if they ordered the wrong tests or misinterpreted the results.
- Overwork - Doctors with heavy workloads are more likely to misdiagnose patients, especially if they do not consult with specialists or other medical professionals when they are uncertain about a diagnosis.
Patients should be able to expect that their doctors will complete the proper tests and take all relevant information into account while making a diagnosis, but they can also take steps to educate themselves and avoid the risk of misdiagnosis. It is always a good idea to ask a doctor questions and make sure to understand their diagnosis and the benefits and drawbacks of the suggested treatments or medications. Patients may also choose to seek out a second opinion to make sure their conditions are diagnosed correctly.
While patients can do their best to protect their own health, they should be able to receive medical care without worrying about the possibility of their doctor making mistakes. If you or a family member have suffered an injury that occurred because of misdiagnosis or some other form of medical malpractice, Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you understand your options for pursuing compensation for your damages. Contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.