Medical misdiagnosis is not a rare occurrence. In fact, as many as 12 million people experience a medical misdiagnosis. Although not every one of those people is affected by their misdiagnosis, about half of them experience harm. Knowing what diseases commonly end up with a misdiagnosis can prevent you from becoming a victim. Here’s a look at the eight most common medical issues that result in a misdiagnosis.
Researchers estimated that, in 2016, there would be 1,685,220 new cases of cancer. About 595,690 would likely result in death. Despite the prevalence of cancer in today’s world, it’s still one of the most common causes of medical misdiagnosis.
Doctors misdiagnose cancer about 28% of the time. That number is even higher for certain types of cancer. Some of them result in a misdiagnosis about 44% of the time. Conditions like lymphoma, sarcoma, melanoma, and breast cancer are among those that doctors often give an incorrect diagnosis.
It’s difficult to determine why the rate of medical misdiagnosis is so high for cancer. However, there are a few factors that contribute to it. These include missing information, too little time for an evaluation, and an incomplete patient history.
It might seem like depression would be easy to identify. But that’s not always the case. The symptoms of depression often correspond with various mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, PTSD, and anxiety. They all share symptoms of sadness, irritability, anxiety, sleep issues, fatigue, and poor focus.
Sometimes, people with depression don’t always get the chance to do a full history or physical exam with their doctors. As a result, medical professionals don’t correctly diagnose their mental illness.
3. Heart Attack
Approximately one in every four deaths in the US are related to heart disease. Yet, health professionals often misdiagnose heart attacks. In the UK, doctors misdiagnose heart attacks about one in every three cases. There are a few reasons for this. For one, a heart attack victim doesn’t always have the same symptoms. At times, there are no symptoms. For example, a senior may confuse a heart attack pain with indigestion. And on other occasions, test results are abnormal and make it difficult for a doctor to recognize.
Heart attacks in women are even more difficult to diagnose. This is because the symptoms are much different from those in men. Women under the age of 55 are seven times more likely to receive a misdiagnosis for a heart attack.
4. Celiac Disease
People often live with celiac disease without even knowing it. Experts believe that doctors misdiagnose or fail to diagnose about 83% of individuals with celiac disease. Like with heart attacks, the symptoms of celiac disease can greatly vary. In many cases, there is pain, diarrhea, and constipation. However, others only experience joint pain, depression, or headaches. Often, the disease is confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The only way to confirm celiac disease is to undergo an intestinal biopsy. But it’s not a common procedure. Some people believe they have celiac disease because a gluten-free diet improves symptoms. However, that could be the placebo effect and could result in a misdiagnosis. Only an intestinal biopsy can confirm that.
5. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease occurs after a tick bites you and spreads a bacterial infection. Although the main symptom of the illness is a bulls-eye rash, the rash doesn’t always appear in people suffering from Lyme. When that happens, people often go misdiagnosed. Other symptoms of Lyme include muscle pain, joint pain, fever, and fatigue- all symptoms of other diseases. The average length of time people go undiagnosed for Lyme is 1.2 years. That’s a long wait when you’re dealing with a serious illness.
There are some early signs of strokes. Unfortunately, doctors often ignore those signs in young people, women, and minorities. Doctors are 30% more likely to ignore the signs of stroke in women and minorities.
In any situation, a doctor could mistake a stroke for a migraine, intoxication, or vertigo. The symptoms eventually occur and include difficulty speaking, confusion, and vision problems, so it’s difficult to identify.
7. Thyroid Issues
There are two main types of thyroid issues: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Having either can cause you to have changes in weight, muscle pain, and fatigue. Other symptoms include diarrhea, anxiety, heart palpitations, hair loss, and irregular menstrual periods. At times, symptoms appear gradually, and the disease can be hard to identify.
8. Pulmonary Embolism
An overwhelming 33.5% of pulmonary embolism patients received a medical misdiagnosis in 2013. Some doctors sent them home with no diagnosis. Others admitted them with the wrong one. The symptoms include chest pain, fainting, anxiety, and shortness of breath. Because those symptoms are similar to pneumonia or a heart attack, identifying the disease isn’t easy.
Are You a Victim of Medical Misdiagnosis?
If you believe that you’re a victim of medical misdiagnosis, you should take action. Look for a medical malpractice attorney who can help you take your case to court.