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What are the odds of misdiagnosis for a major health condition?

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

Severe health conditions threaten the lives of many Washington residents. Those battling illness and disease rely on accurate diagnostic methods. A proper diagnosis can prolong life, improve comfort and provide much-needed hope for recovery.

According to the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), one in ten patients with symptoms of a major health condition will suffer a misdiagnosis. In the context of this blog post, severe conditions mean the big three: vascular events, cancers and infections.

More statistics of note

Patients with any condition can suffer a misdiagnosis, but some are more likely than others to be missed during diagnostic procedures. Unfortunately, health problems with the highest risk of misdiagnosis are typically life-threatening.

The study found that uncommon vascular events and infections are more likely to be misdiagnosed. With cancer, misdiagnosis often occurs because of unsuccessful screening measures.

  • The most misdiagnosed infection (more than 60%) is a spinal abscess, a condition that can lead to paralysis due to spinal cord compression.
  • In vascular events, over one in four aortic dissections and aneurysms suffer from critical delays (nearly 30%) in diagnosis.
  • Lung cancers also have a high rate of diagnostic delays (nearly 23%), potentially increasing the risk of death.

The study indicates that misdiagnoses of the big three have not decreased over the last several decades. Further, inaccurate and delayed diagnosis of some vascular events (aortic aneurysms and stroke) may actually be increasing.

Healthcare professionals are responsible for your medical treatment in the face of a severe medical problem. Such responsibility involves digging deep to find the correct diagnosis, even in uncommon and hard-to-detect conditions. If they fail to meet these responsibilities, harmed patients have the right to seek restitution. Learning about Washington medical malpractice laws can help you build a sound claim.