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How common are diagnostic mistakes in the U.S.?

Physicians are capable of providing services that the average person can’t. They have the legal authority to prescribe medications, ranging from sleep aids to narcotic painkillers. They have admitting rights at the hospital to put someone under observation. They also have training and medical knowledge that can help them diagnose the cause of someone’s symptoms.

You probably try to diagnose yourself by looking up your symptoms online before you see a doctor. However, you are still dependent on your doctor’s knowledge and ability to diagnose you to get the care or medication necessary for your treatment. Sadly, doctors can ignore symptoms, fail to diagnose patients or even diagnose and treat people for the wrong medical condition.

When doctors fail in their diagnostic duties, it can lead to tragic outcomes for patients. How often do diagnostic mistakes occur in modern American medical settings?

Millions of Americans are misdiagnosed annually

With improved imaging testing and genetic sequencing tests available to pinpoint exact kinds of cancer or viruses hurting patients, it has never been easier for doctors to reach a conclusive diagnosis. Unfortunately, they can still rush to conclusions and make mistakes that affect the health of their patients.

Every year, about 12 million patients have to deal with the consequences of an inaccurate diagnosis or a total failure of a doctor to diagnose them at all. Of those 12 million people, between 40,000 and 80,000 could die because of improper treatment or lack of medical intervention.

Although only a fraction of those mistakes lead to severe consequences, patients shouldn’t suffer because medical professionals ignore them or make assumptions about their condition. Recognizing that misdiagnosis is a very common form of medical malpractice can give misdiagnosed patients and grieving families the courage to take legal action.