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How common are diagnostic errors?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

No one goes to a Georgia doctor for treatment expecting to be the victim of medical malpractice. Unfortunately, however, diagnostic errors happen too often. It’s fair to wonder how common a problem this is for people.

What are diagnostic errors?

A diagnostic error is a mistake made by a doctor in determining a potential health condition or problem in a patient. It can also include miscommunication or a failure to communicate a diagnosis to the patient at all.

There are three types of diagnostic errors that can occur. A delayed diagnosis occurs when a doctor takes too long to diagnose a patient. This is a situation that can be deadly depending on the medical condition or disease affecting the person. For example, a delayed diagnosis of cancer once it reaches a later stage can end up in a fatality.

A wrongful diagnosis happens when a doctor believes that a patient is experiencing one condition when they have a completely different one. For example, a person goes to the emergency room complaining of chest pains and the doctor tells them they have a pulled muscle. However, the individual later has a heart attack.

A missed diagnosis can be very serious as well. It occurs when a doctor fails to catch or explain a patient’s complaints. Certain medical conditions are more likely to fall under this category such as chronic fatigue syndrome.

How common are diagnostic errors?

Diagnostic errors are among the most problematic types of medical malpractice. They can pose serious harm to patients. Some are not even detected until after a person has died and an autopsy has been performed.

When a doctor makes a misdiagnosis, it can have terrible consequences for the patient. Around 40,000 to 80,000 patients each year die because of such mistakes.