In as many as 20 percent of all cases, a patient may be misdiagnosed, incorrectly diagnosed or not diagnosed with a condition in a timely manner. In these cases, the consequences for the patient can be severe and might result in permanent injury or death in worst-case scenarios. A study of autopsy and malpractice data by the Internet Journal of Family Practice found that there were several illnesses that were the most commonly misdiagnosed.

At the top of the list was infections, which may be somewhat misleading from a statistical standpoint. While infections are the most misdiagnosed medical condition, this may be because there are millions of cases involving infection each year. Another common illness that is misdiagnosed is cancer, which has a misdiagnosis rate of 12 percent, and breast cancer is among the cancers that are most commonly misdiagnosed.

In other cases, doctors who may think that a patient may have heartburn, bronchitis or gallstones could actually be suffering from a heart attack. This is especially true for those who may not give an accurate description of their symptoms or those who doctors may think are not at a high risk for a heart attack. It is reported that 30 percent of women who have a heart attack do not experience chest pain.

A doctor's failure to diagnose an illness in a timely manner could cause a patient's condition to worsen or even lead to death. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to help an individual who was the victim of a misdiagnosis get the compensation for damages related to the incident. In the event that a patient dies, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to help a victim's family pursue legal action against that doctor or the hospital where the misdiagnosis took place.

Source: Mother Nature Network, "12 illnesses that are commonly misdiagnosed", Melissa Breyer, July 18, 2014

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