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Failures in diagnoses can lead to suffering for patients

When you're concerned about your health, you go to the doctor and have tests performed. When those tests come back, you expect to find out what's wrong. When a doctor tells you that his diagnosis is the cause of your pain or illness, you believe him. Finding out later that the diagnosis was wrong and that you're seriously ill is not only traumatic, but something that might have been avoided with different tests or better care.

A bad diagnosis can put your health at risk. For example, if you're told that you're suffering from an ulcer but later find out that it's stomach cancer, the cancer might have spread and become difficult to treat. Had you been correctly diagnosed in the first place, you'd have been able to seek treatment sooner.

Autopsy reports have suggested that around 10 percent of patent deaths are a result of or have been affected by mistakes in diagnoses. What can doctors do to prevent these mistakes? They can take time to review and double check the evidence in front of them. Guessing or assuming a certain issue is the cause of a patient's concerns isn't supported in today's medical world. Instead, doctors need to avoid leaping to conclusions.

Patients can help themselves by making sure they seek second opinions and by returning to the doctor for further tests if they feel they're necessary. Being persistent can be a patient's best chance, especially when a diagnosis doesn't seem to be helping the condition.

Our website has more information on what to do if you've been hurt because of an incorrect diagnosis. You have rights as a patient and should be heard.

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