According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans visited doctors an estimated 880 million times in 2016. Although doctors in California typically go through more than 10 years of schooling and training before earning their medical licenses, they can still make mistakes. One of the most common mistakes doctors make is misdiagnosis.
People seek help from doctors for different reasons, including visiting primary care physicians for regular medication refills, going to emergency departments for broken limbs and visiting specialists for planned surgical procedures. Although doctors don’t diagnose conditions on all of these visits, diagnosis is still an essential and common part of medical practice.
At appointments, doctors observe and examine patients for symptoms. Combined with their medical knowledge, doctors then make an educated guess about patients’ conditions using these symptoms. Doctors often use tests, including medical imaging and blood tests, to confirm their suspicions. In some cases, doctors avoid making diagnoses until they can perform extensive batteries of tests.
Despite their extensive training, doctors can still make improper diagnoses, also known as misdiagnoses. They can also miss diagnoses altogether, which is a type of doctor error.
Common examples of misdiagnosis
Based on current studies, doctors fail to diagnose conditions or misdiagnose them about 5% of the time. Although it’s not a quick and easy process, it is possible to take doctors to court for a medical malpractice claim.
One common example of misdiagnosis involves breast cancer. Upon visiting primary care physicians, women sometimes get told that lumps in their breasts are benign, which may be a mistake that leads to further harm. Doctors in hospital settings sometimes get infections wrong, too. Since infections often require blood tests to diagnose, doctors may write patients’ symptoms off as side effects of other conditions.
Misdiagnosis can change your life for the worse. You may want to seek help from a medical malpractice attorney to see if you can take recourse against the doctor who misdiagnosed you.