An incorrect medical diagnosis isn’t just bad – it’s insidious. A patient can carry that wrong diagnosis with them for weeks, months or years, never seeking help (or getting real relief) from their actual condition, all the while putting drugs in their body or going through useless treatments for a condition they don’t have.
Research indicates that roughly 12 million people in this country experience a misdiagnosis every single year, or roughly 5% of patients. Additional studies indicate that almost everyone, at some point in their lives, will experience a misdiagnosis.
For most, the misdiagnosis will have minimal consequences. For others, however, the results can be devastating. They may end up with a drastically worse condition due to the delay in treatment, experience new problems due to treatments for the incorrect diagnosis or even lose their window of opportunity to make a recovery at all.
So, what are the most frequently occurring misdiagnoses? Here are the top five:
- Colorectal cancer
This condition is on the rise, and so are misdiagnoses. In large part, that’s because the early stages of the disease can mimic a lot of other things, including everything from inflammatory bowel disease to something as simple as hemorrhoids.
- Lung cancer
That persistent cough that keeps getting treated with new inhalers and an occasional round of steroids might not be asthma or an upper respiratory infection, but lung cancer. It’s second on the list of misdiagnosed conditions.
- Breast cancer
Despite all the technology that’s available today, breast cancer is frequently missed or misdiagnosed. Mammograms miss 12% of cancerous tumors – but breast cancer is also over-diagnosed. As much as 31% of breast cancer diagnoses may be wrong, putting patients through invasive, disfiguring and unnecessary treatments.
- Heart attacks
This is no surprise to a lot of women, who are frequently the victims of this misdiagnosis because doctors are trained to look for the way heart attack symptoms present in men. That often leaves women undiagnosed until it is too late.
- Prostate cancer
Frequently, this misdiagnosis happens either because the physician didn’t take an adequate history or didn’t do an adequate exam. Sometimes it happens because it’s mistaken for bladder cancer due to its appearance on an ultrasound.
Regardless of the reasons, misdiagnoses are far too common, and they do incredible damage to patients and their families. Find out more about your legal options for recovery.