You might be surprised to learn that some of the most severe and life-threatening illnesses and medical emergencies you can experience are also ones that doctors most often misdiagnose. But that is what the authors of a study published in JAMA Network Open say.
Here is the study’s list of the top 10 conditions that doctors most frequently misdiagnose or delay in diagnosing correctly:
- Colorectal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Heart attack
- Prostate cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)
- Brain hemorrhage
These conditions are not just potentially fatal. They are also fairly common. They are not exotic diseases that the average Seattle physician might never see in their career. Indeed, most doctors should be prepared to accurately detect and treat these conditions, especially life-threatening emergencies like a stroke, brain hemorrhage or pulmonary embolism.
How can a doctor misdiagnose their patient?
Negligent misdiagnosis can happen for a variety of reasons. Your doctor might not be paying attention while you describe your symptoms. They might fail to order the tests your condition calls for, or else order the test but misinterpret the results. Or the data in your electronic medical file could be wrong.
Mistakes happen, but medical malpractice goes beyond human error. It represents care that falls below the legal standard you are owed in Washington State. A poor level of care that the average physician practicing in the same region would exceed.
This substandard care can put you in serious danger. A missed diagnosis gives your condition time to grow worse. In the case of cancer, it could be weeks or months before you begin getting the treatment you should have gotten in the first place. And a doctor who misses the signs of a heart attack or stroke can negligently cause their patient to pass away when they might have been able to save the person.