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Failure to Diagnose and Misdiagnosis of Medical Conditions

Failure to Diagnose and Misdiagnosis of Medical Conditions

The Common Types of Medical Diagnostic Mistakes

When you're experiencing health problems, one of the first things you want and need is an accurate diagnosis of the problem. Unfortunately, medical diagnostics is far from an exact science. In addition, many medical professionals fail to take appropriate steps to obtain a timely and accurate determination of the cause of your suffering.

Among the most common diagnostic errors are:

  • Incorrect diagnosis — With misdiagnosis, the physician inaccurately identifies your illness or injury. Misdiagnosis may come from a failure to conduct appropriate testing, or it may stem from negligently interpreting x-rays or test results. One of the most common types of misdiagnosis involves the presence/absence of cancer. It's also fairly common for a medical professional to misdiagnose a heart attack as heartburn or gastric distress.
  • Missed diagnosis — This typically involves giving the patient a "clean bill of health" when actual medical problems exist.
  • Failure to look for or diagnose a related disease or condition — Often, the confirmed diagnosis of one type of illness or injury should cause a doctor to conduct testing or otherwise take steps to determine whether other conditions exist. For example, the diagnosis of high blood pressure should lead to testing for arterial sclerosis, blocked arteries, and problems with heart or vascular function.
  • Failure to anticipate or monitor for complications — The body's response to certain types of surgical procedures can be somewhat unpredictable. A medical professional should monitor for infections or other health problems caused by overcompensation.
  • Delayed diagnosis — A doctor may negligently take a long time to make the correct diagnosis when the condition could have been identified by appropriate testing in the early stages of the illness. This can be extremely problematic with many forms of cancer, which can be effectively treated in early stages but are more difficult once the disease has spread.

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