Misdiagnosis is a leading cause of patient harm in Oregon and across the United States. According to health care advocates, one of the reasons it occurs so often is because patients, doctors and testing can all contribute to the problem.
While patients are never to blame for a misdiagnosis, their actions can make it harder for doctors to discover the correct diagnosis. For example, patients who self-diagnose or fail to report all symptoms to their physician can slow down the diagnostic process. Patients who fail to complete tests ordered by their doctor can also make diagnosis more difficult. However, even if doctors receive all the needed information from a patient, they can still make the wrong diagnosis. Some things that can increase a doctor's chances of making an incorrect diagnosis include lack of knowledge, lack of skill, media influence, doctor bias, attempts to save a patient money, lack of time and confusing symptoms.
Misdiagnosis can also occur when laboratory and pathology tests fail. This can happen due to human errors, such as contaminated or mixed up samples, or test failures that result in false positives or false negatives. These types of failures are infrequent, but they can occur when a patient has certain medical features or rare diseases.
Failure to diagnose cancer or other diseases can cause a patient to suffer a worsened condition and reduce their chances of survival. Some victims of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis are advised to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and/or hospital responsible for the error. This type of lawsuit could help a misdiagnosis victim recover damages, such as medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
Source: Right Diagnosis, "Why Does Misdiagnosis Occur?" Feb. 24, 2017