When Doctors Make Mistakes: What to Do If You Receive a Misdiagnosis

Updated on August 8, 2019
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Did you know that 12 million Americans who seek outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed every year? 

According to research, 1 out of 20 adult patients are misdiagnosed every year and researchers say that half of those cases the misdiagnosis can lead to severe harm.

Keep reading to learn more about what you can do if you, or a loved one, are misdiagnosed.

How Do You Know If You’ve Got a Wrong Diagnosis?

Unfortunately, doctors are only human, which means they might miss symptoms which can lead to a misdiagnosis. 

A common way to know if you have a false diagnosis is by not getting an answer from your doctor about your symptoms. 

Another common way you can tell if you have been wrongly diagnosed is if your medication isn’t making your symptoms better.

There are two types of medical misdiagnosis, the first one is a misdiagnosis and the second one is a missed diagnosis.

Misdiagnosis is when your doctor tells you that you have a certain illness or disease but they are incorrect.

Whereas a missed diagnosis is when your doctor doesn’t diagnose your symptoms and your illness isn’t detected. 

Sometimes a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis might not be harmful, because the body will heal and the person might become better without receiving any or the right medical care.

Other times, a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis can be critical. Wrong medical treatment or no treatment at all could result in your condition getting worse, which could lead to death. 

What to Do If You’ve Been Misdiagnosed

There are a number of things you can do if you think you have been misdiagnosed. The first and most important thing you can do is try to remain calm. 

Stressing about a misdiagnosis won’t help you solve the problem and it might actually make it worse. 

1. Talk to Your Doctor

The first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor about the diagnosis. Record your symptoms and any data or information you think is relevant and go back to your doctor.

Explain to them why you think the diagnosis they gave you might be wrong. For example, if your medication isn’t relieving your symptoms then tell your doctor about it.

Your doctor should then do further examinations and tests to try and get to the bottom of your condition. 

If your doctor is unable to diagnose your symptoms, then they might send you to a specialist. For example, if you have a rash on your skin and your doctor can’t identify what it is, he/she might send you to a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skincare). 

2. Get a Second Opinion

If your doctor has failed to diagnose your symptoms and condition correctly and you are concerned about your health, you might consider getting a second opinion. 

Failure to diagnose is common among patients, so if you think your doctor hasn’t diagnosed your symptoms properly then the best thing to do is to seek medical help from another expert.

You might consider using a different doctor at your practice, or you might want to seek a doctor who specializes in the condition you think you have. (Alternatively, your doctor might have already referred you to a specialist.)

A second, or even third, opinion can be a great way to put your mind at ease about your condition and symptoms. It can also be a great way to find the answers you are looking for in your diagnosis.

3. Seek Assistance

Another thing you can do if you believe you have been wrongly diagnosed is to seek assistance from a lawyer. 

Misdiagnosis lawsuit cases are more common than you might think and many people use attorneys to get to the bottom of their medical malpractices. 

You might be owed a considerable sum of money if you have been misdiagnosed and it has caused you severe harm.

Not all diagnostic errors are the fault of the doctor, so if you are thinking about seeking attorney help then you need to prove these three things:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed (i.e. you went to this doctor to seek medical help)
  • The doctor was negligent (i.e. the doctor did not provide treatment in a skillful and competent manner)
  • The doctor’s negligence caused actual injury or harm to the patient.

In other words, if your misdiagnosis was caused because of improper medical care, no treatment, or delayed treatment (which caused your condition to worsen) then you might be able to file a malpractice lawsuit against your doctor.

Malpractice lawsuits can help patients to get the compensation they deserve if they have been wrongly treated or not treated at all. 

Finding a professional lawyer who is knowledgable about medical malpractice and who has plenty of experience is essential. Make sure you do some research on the lawyers you are looking at hiring before appointing an expert to help you. 

If you’ve been wrongly diagnosed and think that you might have a case, then you need to learn more about KBA Attorneys. KBA Attorneys deal with a whole range of personal injury and medical malpractice cases. 

Medical Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis is common for some patients who are diagnosed with wrong or no medical conditions, illnesses, and diseases.

If you are concerned about your health then you need to seek further assistance, such as getting a second opinion from a professional medical assistant or specialist and getting the help of a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice lawsuits. 

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.