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Back May 21, 2020

Medical Conditions that Are Commonly Misdiagnosed

You seek medical attention when you’re ill with the intention of receiving appropriate care and restoring your health. If you’re misdiagnosed, however, it can cause serious complications – not only are you not receiving the treatment you need, but you also might be receiving treatment for an illness that you don’t have. If you’ve been injured by medical misdiagnosis, an experienced Matthews medical malpractice lawyer can help.   

Medical Misdiagnosis Happens

According to a study reported by both the United Press International and the Washington Post, a full 20 percent of patients who have serious health conditions are first misdiagnosed by their primary care providers. Further, the report shares that such diagnostic errors are an under-represented component of patient safety. 

The statistics shared include:

  • About 10 percent of patient deaths involve diagnostic errors. 
  • Diagnostic errors account for about 6 to 17 percent of the adverse events that take place in hospitals.

Suffice to say that getting a second opinion is a great idea. 

Commonly Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions

While a patient can be misdiagnosed for nearly any kind of ailment, there are several dangerous conditions that are more likely to be misdiagnosed, including:


  • Pulmonary Embolism – A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lungs that can present with symptoms such as unexplained shortness of breath, sweating, chest pains, and anxiety, and that is often missed by medical providers. 
  • Heart Attacks – A heart attack can be symptom-free, men and women tend to exhibit different symptoms, and older sufferers often have different symptoms than younger sufferers. Some victims experience crushing chest pain, while others have only the slight discomfort associated with indigestion. Heart diseases that lead to heart attacks often go undiagnosed because of the wide-ranging symptoms associated and how closely they mimic the symptoms of other diseases. 
  • Cancer – Cancer misdiagnoses are not infrequent, and the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers include melanoma, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, hematological cancer, and gynecological cancer. 
  • Chronic Illnesses – Chronic illnesses such as lupus and fibromyalgia are often misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis because they can all share common symptoms such as joint pain, extreme fatigue, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and rash.
  • Lyme Disease – A bulls-eye rash is the hallmark of Lyme disease, but many people who have the disease never develop the rash. Lyme disease is caused by a tick bite and can lead to symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, fatigue, shortness of breath, and/or a stiff neck. It can take many months of suffering with these symptoms before some victims are finally properly diagnosed. 
  • Depression – Depression is a serious illness that often goes undiagnosed due to somewhat vague symptoms that frequently overlap with other health conditions. Such symptoms can include chronic exhaustion, insomnia, irritability, sadness, and problems with concentration. 
  • Thyroid Disease – Thyroid disease can masquerade as many different kinds of illness – often due to the vague nature of its symptoms, such as weight gain, weakness and fatigue, and pain in the joints and muscles. 
  • Stroke – Many people who experience strokes are misdiagnosed as being intoxicated, as having vertigo, or as suffering from migraines. Many stroke victims actually visit an ER up to a month prior to their strokes complaining of severe dizziness and headaches. Doctors are more likely to misdiagnose strokes in those under the age of 45 and in women.
  • Celiac Disease – Celiac disease refers to an inability to digest gluten properly, and those who suffer from it often experience symptoms such as weight loss, anemia, pain in the abdomen, cramping in one’s extremities, and vomiting and diarrhea. 
  • Infection – Many people suffer from serious infections at any given time, and when left undiagnosed, such infections can morph into life-threatening conditions such as sepsis. 


Your Diagnosis

We’re all aware that early diagnosis is closely related to improved prognosis, but this is only true when that diagnosis is accurate to begin with. Doctors are taught a differential diagnosis treatment method in which they first explore both the most dangerous condition and the most likely condition associated with the symptoms as presented in order to rule both out via proper testing procedures. By doing so, the healthcare provider can continue to move more accurately toward the true nature of the patient’s illness. When doctors and medical teams skip steps in the process, avoidable, dangerous misdiagnoses can ensue.

How Misdiagnosis Happens

While a misdiagnosis can happen for any number of reasons, there are some common errors that often contribute, including:

  • Doctors can fail to order standard tests that identify cancer and other dangerous illnesses. 
  • Doctors can fail to recognize clear symptoms of a disease, such as those related to a heart attack. 
  • Doctors and other medical personnel can make mistakes in gathering vital patient information that could aid them in the diagnosis process. Often, intake professionals fail to gather adequate information during the physical examination, fail to record pertinent information, and/or fail to respond in accordance with the information gathered. 

Despite patients’ explanations of their symptoms, their physical displays of symptoms, and other warning signs, doctors can simply be wrong in their diagnoses, and patients suffer the avoidable health consequences. 

Your Damages

In addition to the negative physical consequences, the damages associated with misdiagnosis of a serious illness – for those who survive the – often include:

  • Exorbitant medical expenses
  • Lost wages on the job
  • Emotional pain and suffering

All told, the physical, financial, and emotional damages associated with medical misdiagnosis can be overwhelming. 

An Experienced Matthews Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

If you or someone you care about has been harmed by medical misdiagnosis, the dedicated medical malpractice lawyers at Panchenko Law Firm in Matthews, North Carolina, are committed to helping you recover for your losses in their entirety. Our formidable legal team has the experience, fortitude, and resources to skillfully advocate for your case’s optimal resolution. We’re on your side, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at (704) 900-7675 to learn more about how we can help today.

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