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How common are misdiagnoses?

One of the most common forms of diagnostic failure in Florida, and the United States in general, is the failure to diagnose a condition. The most common types of lawsuits for failing to diagnose or for a delayed diagnosis are for breast cancer, lung cancer, heart attack, appendicitis and colon cancer.

Although these are not the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions, they are the ones that usually cause the most harm the fastest. It is very common for doctors to misdiagnose hypertension and diabetes, but they do not lead to as many lawsuits because the harm from these conditions is not as severe nor does it manifest itself as quickly. These conditions also generally result in smaller awards from successful lawsuits.

The conditions most likely to not be diagnosed are Toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite, sleep disorders and Otosclerosis, a genetic ear bone disorder. There are believed to be millions of people in the United States who are unaware that they have these conditions. While the number of people who are unaware of having breast cancer is far lower, it is still a significant total.

If a medical condition is not diagnosed properly or a diagnosis is delayed, an individual's condition can get worse and even lead to the development of other medical conditions, especially if the patient is being treated for the wrong ailment. Large medical bills also often result from increased medical attention that becomes needed. A patient who has been the victim of a delayed or incorrect diagnosis may have legal recourse, and an initial consultation with a medical malpractice attorney is recommended.

Source: Right Diagnosis, "How Common is Failure to Diagnose?", October 24, 2014

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