After you explain your symptoms to your doctor, you likely expect them to order some tests or ask a few more questions before figuring out what ails you and prescribing treatment. When they tell you their diagnosis, you probably trust them and immediately follow any medical recommendations that they make.
Unfortunately, every year, thousands of people who need medical assistance have a doctor make a mistake when diagnosing them. Some physicians fail to diagnose their patients at all. Diagnostic errors are a major medical malpractice issue, and they often lead to one or both of the major risks mentioned below.
Patients will undergo unnecessary or damaging treatments
When a doctor thinks they know what caused your symptoms, they may prescribe a specific treatment or medication to help resolve the issue. The problem is that a treatment or drug could do much more harm than good if you don’t actually have the diagnosed condition the doctor concludes that you have.
In some cases, unnecessary treatment might even make the actual condition a patient suffers from worse. Other times, they could have a severe adverse reaction to the drug or treatment that affects their health.
A patient’s condition could deteriorate without necessary care
As dangerous and concerning as receiving unnecessary medical treatment is, not getting the care you need is even more frightening. Especially if you have a serious illness like cancer, a timely diagnosis could be the difference between recovering and eventually dying. It could also mean the difference between non-invasive immunotherapies and aggressive, debilitating chemotherapy.
Doctors should always rule out major concerns before they reach a diagnostic conclusion to ensure they really understand their patient’s condition. Understanding the impact of a diagnostic failure can help you hold your doctor accountable when they don’t provide the care you need.