According to a recent CNN report, about one in 18 patients are misdiagnosed in U.S. emergency rooms annually. What does that tell us, aside from the importance of getting a second or third medical opinion?
It tells us that misdiagnosing illnesses in an urgent care facility is a widespread problem affecting millions of Americans. If it can happen in an emergency room, it can happen elsewhere in a hospital or maybe even at a doctor’s office.
What are the most misdiagnosed conditions?
Over the 20-year study period, researchers found that stroke was the most misdiagnosed medical problem in emergency rooms. Runners-up include:
- Myocardial infarction or heart attack
- Aortic aneurysm or dissection
- Spinal cord injury or compression
- Venous thromboembolism or blood clot
The conditions above accounted for nearly 40% of all misdiagnosis-related injuries. Negligently misdiagnosing an illness or injury is a form of medical malpractice.
What happens to you if misdiagnosed?
For one, you will not receive the proper treatment for the condition affecting you. For instance, say you go to the emergency room because of a heart attack, but the doctor brushes you off and says it is indigestion. You probably would not receive potentially life-saving drugs or therapies.
On the other hand, a misdiagnosis could expose you to harmful drugs or treatments you don’t even need. You could even find yourself on the business end of a sharp scalpel due to an incorrect diagnosis.
Hospital staff members, including emergency room personnel, must practice caution to ensure their initial diagnoses are as accurate as possible. That usually means performing a battery of tests. When someone suffers harm because care providers failed to follow standard diagnosing procedures, Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice laws can open a path to financial compensation.