4 Issues that Could Lead to a Medical Misdiagnosis

Each year, millions of Americans visit emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, and clinics to receive care for illnesses and injuries. It is the responsibility of medical professionals who work at these facilities to provide the correct treatment for and accurately diagnose a patient’s condition. Unfortunately, not all healthcare providers identify conditions correctly, leading to misdiagnoses that cause further harm to patients. There are many factors that could lead to a medical misdiagnosis, including failure to order the proper tests, ignoring lab results, or misreading tests.

#1: Failure to Order the Right Diagnostic Tests

Physicians have a responsibility to uphold a certain duty of care while providing treatment to patients. When a patient comes to a doctor with certain symptoms, he or she has a duty to order the proper tests in order to diagnose the condition. These diagnostic tests help doctors identify signs of medical conditions based on a patient’s symptoms, pinpointing certain disease markers while ruling out other conditions.

If a doctor fails to order the proper tests while treating a patient, the patient’s condition can go undetected. For example, say that a patient comes to the emergency room with nausea and chest pain. In this situation, a reasonable doctor may order an electrocardiogram (EKG) to rule out more serious conditions, like a heart attack. However, the responding doctor diagnoses the condition as heartburn without ordering an EKG. If he or she is having a heart attack, the patient’s condition may worsen.

#2: Misreading or Ignoring Laboratory Tests

When a doctor does order the correct diagnostic tests, he or she has a responsibility to accurately interpret the results when he or she receives them. However, some medical professionals may misread these results or ignore tests altogether, leading to undetected and misdiagnosed conditions. For example, a doctor may say that a tumor is benign after receiving a biopsy report when the mass is in fact cancerous. This can lead the cancer to grow and worsen in the patient, leading to a more serious prognosis than before.

#3: Misinterpreting Symptoms

In some cases, a patient may come to a doctor with certain symptoms. The physician may misinterpret these symptoms as another condition and misdiagnose the patient, preventing him or her from receiving the care he or she needs. A medical professional may take the first symptoms he or she notices to form a diagnosis, failing to ask the patient about other relevant symptoms.

For example, a patient may come to an emergency room with fatigue, difficulty walking, and confusion. A nurse may quickly interpret these symptoms as dehydration and inform a doctor to provide fluids to the patient. However, the patient may actually be having a stroke, and the medical professionals failed to accurately interpret his or her symptoms.

#4: Failure to Consider a Patient’s Medical History

A patient’s pre-existing conditions, past medical history, and previous treatments can help healthcare providers accurately diagnose a condition. However, some providers may fail to take this history into account, leading to misdiagnoses. For example, someone with heart disease may come into an urgent care facility with heart palpitations and a doctor may diagnose him or her with anxiety. If the doctor had looked at the patient’s medical history, he or she would know the condition is likely more serious.

If you believe that you are the victim of medical misdiagnosis, you may have grounds for legal action. Contact a Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible following your misdiagnosis to discuss your optimal path to maximum recovery.