Every year, one of every 20 adults in the United States is diagnosed incorrectly when seeking outpatient care according to BMJ Quality & Safety, a research journal with a focus on medicine and patient-care. The study states that 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed every year and about 4 million of these misdiagnoses are life altering or life threatening. According to the Washington Post, most people receive a late or misdiagnosis at least once in their lifetime. Misdiagnoses happen every day and are the most common form of medical negligence.
Three Common Causes of Medical Misdiagnosis
To understand why so many Americans are misdiagnosed on a yearly basis and to protect yourself against medical malpractice it is important to know the leading causes of misdiagnosis. According to Docpanel, an online platform for educational consults from high-caliber, subspecialty radiologists at prestigious academic hospitals in the United States, the most common cause of misdiagnosis is the misinterpretation of imaging results. Quite often, this is the result of general radiologists reviewing the results instead of a specialist, who would have a better understanding of what your x-ray results are showing. Simply asking to have a specialist review your x-rays can make a difference in avoiding unnecessary pain and suffering. This is especially true when diagnosing cancer because accurate x-ray interpretation is critical in the diagnosis and in creating the best and most efficient treatment plan.
Another common practice that results in misdiagnosis is a failure to order appropriate and necessary follow-up tests. According to the Mayo Clinic, 88% of those who seek a second opinion receive a refined or changed diagnosis. Of these, 21% were completely changed. More than half of breast imaging second opinions lead to “significant change in interpretation,” often having to do with the presence of cancer. If you feel as though something is wrong, make sure you and your doctor leave no stone unturned when looking for the cause. Bloodwork, x-rays, or a second opinion from a specialist provide much needed clarity to initial results and can reveal the dangerous underlying causes of common and relatively benign symptoms.
The third most common cause of a misdiagnosis is the misinterpretation of test results by a medical professional. Doctors and nurses are subject to make mistakes when looking at your charts. “Doctors’ visits these days tend to be rushed… that’s a big problem,” Dr. LaPook, a co-author of the BMJ study told CBS News. Only you know how you feel, and if you believe that your symptoms are being downplayed or misinterpreted, do not hesitate to tell your doctor that you believe there is something more significant that is wrong, or seek the advice of a specialist.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Ailments
Delayed cancer diagnoses make up nearly half of the 12 million misdiagnoses in the United States each year. This is significant because successful cancer treatment relies heavily on catching the disease in its earliest stages. The longer the cancer develops and remains undiagnosed, the harder it can be to treat. Breast cancer, prostate cancer, and thyroid cancer are the three most commonly delayed or misdiagnosed cancers according to the BMJ study. Screening procedures have become routine and medical professionals often miss or dismiss subtle indications that an early stage cancer may be present.
Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed ailments according to AARP are:
- Lupus, which is commonly mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Parkinson’s disease, which physicians often believe is Alzheimer’s, stroke, stress, traumatic head injury, or essential tremor
- Fibromyalgia, which can appear to be rheumatoid arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Lyme disease, which shares many of the symptoms of Mononucleosis, flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, and meningitis
- Multiple sclerosis, which can be mistaken for a viral infection, lupus, Alzheimer’s, or bipolar disorder
- Celiac disease, whose symptoms are believed to be the result of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or cystic fibrosis
Marasco & Nesselbush Successes
Marasco & Nesselbush has developed a well-deserved reputation for expertise in handling complex cases involving medical negligence and we achieve extraordinary results on behalf of our clients who have suffered from medical misdiagnosis:
- $2,000,000 awarded to the family of a woman who died as a result of a failure to accurately diagnose which led to negligent care
- $1,500,000 settlement for the parents whose son passed away after swelling of the brain was mistaken for an upset stomach by an emergency room physician’s assistant
- Confidential settlement reached after the wrongful death of a young mother whose brain cancer went undiagnosed due to a lack of communication between her physician and radiologist
- $1,000,000 policy limit settlement obtained after a delayed cancer diagnosis forced a patient to undergo a surgery which resulted in permanent disability
- Confidential settlement reached on behalf of the family left behind by a mother after a failure to diagnose her breast cancer resulted in her passing
- $900,000 verdict after the tragic death of an 11-day-old baby girl due to two doctors’ failure to accurately diagnose her leading to her suffocation
- Confidential settlement obtained for the widow of a veteran after he was diagnosed with rib cage inflammation when he had a life-threatening recurrence of MRSA
- $900,000 settlement obtained on behalf of a woman who became infertile as a result of her obstetrician’s failure to diagnose retained placental tissue after the birth of her first child
- $875,000 recovery for the family of a child who tragically passed away due to a pediatrician’s failure to diagnose and treat a serious infection
- Confidential settlement reached after two radiologists’ late diagnosis resulted in a woman’s breast cancer metastasizing, resulting in months of painful and debilitating chemotherapy
How Marasco & Nesselbush Can Help
Founded in 1999, Marasco & Nesselbush is Rhode Island’s trusted injury law firm. Our award-winning team of twelve attorneys has more than 200 years of combined experience advocating for clients who have suffered life-altering injuries. With over $100,000,000 recovered for our clients, we have a proven track record of successfully resolving complex serious injury cases.
Above all else, our firm is dedicated to the well-being of every client we work with. We make a commitment to treat every client with compassion and take pride in providing an exceptional client experience while achieving extraordinary legal results.
If you or a loved one has suffered from medical negligence and are in need of legal care, give us a call to schedule a free legal consultation.