Regular checkups with a doctor are essential for detecting early signs of illness. Unfortunately, physicians and other medical professionals often fail to identify underlying conditions, even when those conditions could prove fatal without timely intervention.
Annually, over 100,000 U.S. patients may experience either permanent disability or death due to diagnostic failures. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, three broad categories of disease are among the most frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.
The “big three” conditions
The “big three” conditions that the Johns Hopkins research team identified include different types of cancer (37%), vascular disease (22.8%) and infections (13.5%). These three conditions make up almost 75% of all cases of serious patient harm due to diagnostic errors.
Specific conditions related to diagnostic failure
Among the three broad types of conditions commonly un- or misdiagnosed, specific health issues that health care providers may miss include:
- Skin, lung, prostate, colorectal and breast cancers
- Stroke, heart attack, aortic aneurysm, endocarditis and venous thromboembolism
- Spinal infections, pneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis and meningitis
The Johns Hopkins study also found that, in over 85% of misdiagnosis cases, poor judgment on the part of clinical providers was a major factor.
Misdiagnosis statistics to know
Medical News Today reports that diagnostic errors may result in 40,000 to 80,000 fatalities yearly in the U.S. Annually, another 80,000 to 160,000 American patients face either permanent disability or death due to a late or mistaken diagnosis.
There are many reasons that doctors may fail to notice important signs of illness. Lack of good communication with patients, failure to suggest necessary tests and overlooking symptoms that may signal underlying issues are all examples. Patients and their loved ones should know that the law may entitle them to compensation when misdiagnosis leads to a missed chance for recovery.