The missing diagnosis: What to know about misdiagnoses

Many medical conditions are difficult to diagnose. They may share similarities and symptoms. Others are a little bit easier, with simple tests and procedures that make it possible to identify the condition sooner.

A misdiagnosis or the lack of a diagnosis has the potential to threaten your life in some cases. In others, it means living in pain or with unusual, confusing symptoms far longer than is necessary. For example, someone developing Type I diabetes may feel unwell for quite a while and present with symptoms of diabetes but not be diagnosed. If he or she is not diagnosed rapidly, it’s possible that he or she could go into ketoacidosis or end up passing away from the disease.

How many people go without a diagnosis or have a misdiagnosis?

It’s been estimated that approximately 12 million Americans go without the correct diagnosis of a condition each year. That means that those individuals may think they have a condition they don’t actually have, or they may not be treated for a condition they do. A misdiagnosis can lead to serious consequences, and around 40,500 people die each year because of them.

Are misdiagnosis always life-threatening?

Many conditions cause problems that are not necessarily life-threatening, but they can impact a person’s quality of life.

Why would a doctor not recognize the signs of a common disorder like endometriosis?

In the case of endometriosis, many believe it’s because those with it may be young or because others may laugh off their intolerance to what is supposed to be “normal” pain each month. The impact is serious, though. It can mean students miss class, struggle to work a normal job or even have mental health problems as a result of dealing with the trauma of not having a diagnosis. Other people may have their concerns dismissed because of a past history of mental health issues or repeated doctor visits for an unnamed illness.

Going without a diagnosis is hard, which is why it’s a good idea to always seek a second opinion and to continue to push if something feels wrong. If you are injured as a result, it may be the doctor or medical provider who is to blame.

Tag medical malpractice

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