doctor talking to a patient

How Common is Misdiagnosis?

12 Million US Adults are Misdiagnosed Annually

A recent study published in BMJ Quality & Safety has shown that an estimated 12 million US adults are misdiagnosed in outpatient centers annually. Since approximately 80.5% of the adult population seeks treatment in one of these facilities annually, researchers have formally classified diagnostic error as a "substantial patient safety risk" for patients receiving treatment in outpatient centers. The study also reports that half of these outpatient errors could lead to severe harm.

Furthermore, the study indicates that medical professionals are largely aware of their misdiagnoses, as 54% of pediatricians surveyed reported making a diagnostic error at least once or twice a month.

The commonality of misdiagnosis is staggering and not only can lead to extensive medical complications but higher treatment costs in the long run.

The Cost of Seeking a Second Opinion

A second study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice also warranted a cause for concern. Nearly 88% of patients who sought a second opinion had a refined or completely changed diagnosis.

In the 21% of patients who had a completely changed diagnosis, diagnostic costs were significantly higher than those with a correct or refined diagnosis.

The cost factor highlights one of the key reasons why having a correct diagnosis is so crucial. It is not uncommon that when recommended additional, costly treatments following a second diagnosis an individual is deterred from getting the help they need. Delayed or excessive treatment due to a diagnostic error could be the difference between effective healing and unwanted complications down the line.

Most Common Misdiagnoses

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions can be broken down into three umbrella categories: infections, vascular events, and cancers. About 75% of high-severity diagnostic errors belong to one of these three classifications, also known as the "Big Three." Within these distinctions, here are the most frequently occurring misdiagnoses, respectively:

  • Sepsis
  • Stroke
  • Lung Cancer

Other commonly misdiagnosed ailments include Lyme disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and heart attacks. These conditions can all vary in severity, including the risk of life-threatening conditions if left undiagnosed and untreated.

New York Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Being diagnosed with a serious medical condition should never be a guessing game, and receiving an improper diagnosis can lead to many complications down the line, including more severe illnesses and even death. If you or a loved one is struggling to find answers after a diagnostic error impacted your health, consider seeking legal representation with The Law Firm of D.F. Truhowsky for a medical malpractice claim.

Our team can provide a free case evaluation on the phone, via Zoom, at home, or in your hospital room. Call (888) 400-1691 to schedule your consultation today.