Before doctors can treat patients, they first have to diagnose them. Diagnostic services are crucial for a patient’s well-being.
It’s not possible to order the right treatment if a doctor doesn’t know what is causing someone’s symptoms. Given that doctors have years of training in the diagnostic process, you might hope mistakes in the process don’t happen that often, but the truth is that diagnostic errors occur all the time.
Doctors’ mistakes claim thousands of lives every year
Medical malpractice is a major cause of death in the United States. Diagnostic errors contribute substantially to the rate at which medical mistakes negatively affect patients. Not diagnosing a condition might mean that a patient doesn’t get treatment, while a missed diagnosis might mean they receive the wrong treatment, which can be even worse.
It’s hard to know how many diagnostic mistakes really occur, as modern systems for tracking the issue rely on a combination of self-reporting (which will likely skew low) and hard medical evidence, like surprise findings during an autopsy.
Even so, the figures about failed diagnosis are worrisome. As many as 12 million people every year have issues related to diagnostic failures by medical professionals, and between 40,000 and 80,000 people die because of delayed or totally failed diagnoses.
Patients can take action after diagnostic mistakes
When a doctor makes a mistake that another physician would reasonably have been able to avoid, their mistake may constitute medical malpractice. Diagnostic errors can lead to medical malpractice insurance claims or even civil lawsuits. An experienced attorney can provide guidance if you or a loved one has suffered harm due to an error.