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When can misdiagnosis cause serious harm?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

In all areas of medicine, misdiagnosis can happen. It becomes medical malpractice when a doctor acts negligently or breaches his or her duty and causes serious harm. According to Medical News Today, more than 40,000 deaths may occur due to misdiagnosis.

When studying different cases of misdiagnosis, researchers look at the conditions that are more likely to result in serious injury, disability or even death.

What are the most serious misdiagnoses?

In terms of misdiagnosed conditions, researchers categorize those that cause serious harm into three different categories. Serious harm may refer to death or permanent disability. Of all serious injuries, one-third of them were from cancer misdiagnosis. After cancer, vascular issues and infections came next.

Lung cancer, stroke and sepsis are the most misdiagnosed conditions that cause harm. Other conditions may include:

  • Blood clots
  • Skin cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Heart attacks
  • Pneumonia

Time-sensitive conditions tend to have the most risk.

How do these misdiagnoses occur?

Research shows that these misdiagnoses may occur mostly due to clinical judgment failures. Teams with poor communication skills and that fail to work together are more likely to contribute to false diagnoses. Teams who use technology and have the proper education to mitigate misdiagnosis risk do not pose the same risk factors as those who do not.

To know where patients most likely suffer misdiagnosis can help doctors prevent future risk. Most medical errors occur when someone is not a part of in-patient treatment. In emergencies, a patient has a higher likelihood of suffering an infection or vascular issue. Whereas cancer-related misdiagnoses tend to occur in outpatient settings.

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