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Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Abbott Law Group, P.A. > Medical Malpractice Attorney > Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis Delayed DiagnosisMedical malpractice happens more frequently than reported, and many people may not even be aware that they are a victim of malpractice or negligence until it is too late.  The most common medical error happens to be a diagnostic error either by misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis.

When patients are rushed to the ER, doctors and staff are pressured to quickly diagnose and treat the problems and move onto the next patient.  Unfortunately, the current process for treating patients in the ER has led to a 25% error rate of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis incidents.

Getting an accurate diagnosis may be crucial to saving a patient’s life.  In the event the patient has cancer, the chances of surviving are much higher if the cancer is caught in the early stages, but if the cancer is misdiagnosed or there was a delay in the diagnosis, the patient may have a more difficult time battling the cancer.

Recent Study on Misdiagnosis Problems

The Journal of American Medicine released a study in 2009 which investigated 583 incidents of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

The results showed an alarming percentage of patients were either moderately affected or seriously affected by the diagnosis errors.

  • 28% of patients suffered a catastrophic injury or wrongful death
  • 41% of patients had been moderately affected and required additional treatment
  • 31% of patients were hardly affected or had a mild reaction

The study also investigated what adverse events were missed due to the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.  If not treated right away or caught early, these injuries may become life threatening.

Most frequently misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosed adverse event or injury in the study

  • 4.5% – Pulmonary Embolism undetected
  • 4.5% – Prescription Drug reaction or overdose
  • 3.9% – Lung Cancer
  • 3.3% – Colorectal Cancer
  • 3.1% – Acute Coronary syndrome
  • 3.1% – Breast Cancer
  • 2.6% – Stroke

Where Problems Related to Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis errors begin

A physical examination by the doctor may not be enough to give an accurate diagnosis, and there are times where samples may need to be sent to a lab for further analysis. During this phase of the diagnosis process, there are many steps that must be followed, and if any of the steps are missed, it could lead to a critical error in diagnosis. The study from JAMA also revealed this is where many of the problems with misdiagnosis happen.

According to the study on misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis:

  • 44% of medical errors occurred due to steps missed or wrong information given during the procedure to find a diagnosis. Reporting the wrong information, failing to order results, and failing to follow up after the results have come in were among the problems most likely to occur.
  • 32% of diagnosis errors happened due to the lab technician ruling out one conclusion due to a more likely diagnosis of another.
  • 10% happened because the patients prior medical history had not been properly recorded
  • 10% were due to the failure to conduct a physical examination
  • 3% had issues with consultations or referral information provided


Contact us if you believe you may have been the victim of medical malpractice due to misdiagnosis or diagnostic error

If you believe a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis by your doctor resulted in a serious injury, then you should speak with one of our trial lawyers right away about your legal rights to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.  Due to the seriousness of the injuries and problems that are involved, misdiagnosis is the most frequent medical error that is litigated in medical malpractice cases.

A misdiagnosis may prove to be fatal, and in many cases may lead to a life-threatening injury.  Don’t let hospital negligence and misdiagnosis errors go unreported.  Call us right now for a free consultation to see if you have a claim for medical malpractice.