When you are ill and need medical help, you expect your physician to figure out what is wrong with you. You hope your visit will result in getting the medication or treatment you need and you will be feeling better soon. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Doctors at times unfortunately misdiagnosis patients.
How common is medical misdiagnosis?
Current medical studies estimate that between 10% to 15% of medical diagnoses are incorrect. That means that about 100 to 200 million U.S. patients receive a misdiagnosis each year. Medical experts estimate that in 80,000 of those cases, the misdiagnosis causes a patient serious harm. For example, if a patient isn’t diagnosed with a stroke accurately or in a timely manner, the patient could suffer a permanent disability as a result.
Stroke is just one condition that doctors frequently misdiagnose. Others include:
- Cancer (particularly lymphoma, breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolism
What patients can do about misdiagnosis
Because of how common misdiagnosis can be, patients should seek a second opinion if:
- They receive a diagnosis of a serious illness, such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease.
- Their symptoms don’t improve after seeking medical treatment for a condition.
If patients discover a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis seriously impacted their health, they should consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney. In Pennsylvania, patients only have two years after discovering a harmful misdiagnosis to file a malpractice lawsuit over it.
In a medical malpractice suit, you could receive compensation for:
- Your past and future medical costs
- Reimbursement for lost income or earning potential because of your misdiagnosis
- Damages for pain and suffering or reduction in the quality of your life
- Punitive damages (to punish a negligent healthcare provider)
An attorney will help gather evidence of how your misdiagnosis affected your health and if you have any lasting health problems related to your misdiagnosis. An attorney also will help show that you received substandard care when you received an incorrect diagnosis.
In today’s health care industry, patients often have to become strong advocates for their own health. Sometimes, seeking compensation for medical malpractice is part of that, especially in holding doctors accountable for harmful mistakes they make.