What’s the Difference Between a Misdiagnosis and a Missed Diagnosis?

Published on May 21, 2024 at 8:05 pm in Medical Malpractice.

When you go to the doctor for a health concern, you expect them to look at your health history and perform a thorough examination to determine what is ailing you. But, when your doctor tells you nothing is wrong or prescribes medication for an illness you don’t think is the cause of your symptoms, you might feel discouraged or even scared.

You might then seek a second opinion from another doctor, hoping that they will find the true cause of your illness. And when a doctor misdiagnoses you as well, what options do you have?

In this post, we’ll discuss what the differences are between a misdiagnosis and a missed diagnosis and how serious both types of medical negligence can be to a patient’s health.

What Is a Misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or other medical professional diagnoses a patient with a condition they do not have. For example, a patient who has suffered from a stroke is being told they have a case of vertigo or a migraine, and they are sent home when they should be sent for scans, but due to perhaps their younger age or overall good health, the doctor ignores the signs of a stroke.

Sometimes, a misdiagnosis only causes irritation in a patient suffering from something milder when they realize their time and money are being wasted. Other times, however, an incorrect diagnosis like this can be lethal to the patient. The treatment for the wrong condition may be the opposite of what the patient actually needs for their condition and can cause a patient’s illness to become worse, leading to the death of the patient.

Another deadly problem that arises from a misdiagnosis is when the diagnosis of the correct illness ends up being delayed for so long that by the time the doctors realize what the patient is suffering from, it’s too late for the illness to be treated successfully.

Failure to take a thorough health history, failure to order tests indicated by the patient’s symptoms, or misreading test results are all common ways that a doctor may misdiagnose a patient.

What Is a Missed Diagnosis?

Also called delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose, this concept refers to a doctor or other medical professional failing to recognize or realize a medical condition that their patient presents with or shows symptoms of.

This is a huge issue among women who are seeking medical advice about health concerns they are facing. Multiple studies have shown that women, especially those suffering from chronic health issues, are more often ignored or told, “It’s all in your head,” and given prescriptions for sedatives.

Research from an Australian study of women with chronic illnesses showed that women often wait longer to be properly diagnosed than men do, most prevalent in cancer patients. In this study, the women often waited an average of four years for a definitive diagnosis, and almost half of those women were re-diagnosed at least once. Of the women who were diagnosed again, 32% received an original diagnosis of something psychological or medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) until only later being diagnosed with an organic disease or condition.

As touched on above, a missed diagnosis in cancer patients especially can be deadly. Stories are constantly in the news or on social media about younger people, usually women, who die from end-stage cancer after being repeatedly ignored by multiple doctors for years. Missed diagnoses are serious and often life-threatening.

What You Can Do If You’ve Suffered From Medical Malpractice

Both misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis cases can fall under the large umbrella of medical malpractice, and if you’ve suffered unnecessarily at the hands of a medical professional, you might be wondering what you can do next. Doctors make mistakes, just like all humans do, but you shouldn’t have to suffer because of their mistakes, and they should be held accountable.

The first thing to do after you suffer a diagnostic error after receiving corrective medical treatment is to reach out to an experienced Marion, IL medical malpractice attorney. Then, with the assistance of your lawyer, you can begin to build a case against those who caused you harm. You need proof that your doctor failed in their duty of care to you and that you suffered injuries or illness as a direct result of that failure.

Claims of misdiagnoses or missed diagnoses can quickly become complex, especially if you’ve seen multiple doctors over the course of several years. You and your lawyer may have to contact all of the offices you’ve visited to collect the necessary information to prove your case.

This may seem to be a daunting task, but with the help of our legal team, such as ours at Prince Law Firm, we’ll make it as easy as possible and do our best to ensure that your claim is taken seriously.



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