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What Are the Different Types of Diagnostic Errors?

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 31-Oct-2017

Medical mistakes are extremely common in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other health care facilities across the country. In fact, a study published in British Medical Journal estimated that medical errors cause 250,000 patient deaths in the US each year. Diagnostic errors are the most common type of medical mistake. These mistakes can lead to catastrophic consequences for patients and their families. However, there are different types of diagnostic errors. The different types include:

  • Delayed diagnosis: In this case, a doctor diagnoses the patient with the correct health condition after a significant period of time has passed. They may get the initial diagnosis wrong, but later correct the mistake. Depending on the health condition, it may be too late for the patient to receive treatment.
  • Missed diagnosis: This is where a doctor misses the diagnosis and never corrects the error. For example, a doctor may tell a patient with undiagnosed cancer that they have a clean bill of health.
  • Wrong diagnosis: With this diagnostic error, a doctor can mistake one diagnosis for another. This error might occur when two health conditions have similar symptoms. For example, a doctor could mistake a heart attack for acid reflux symptoms.
  • Diagnosing the wrong subtype: Some health conditions have subtypes. For example, there are different subtypes of lymphoma. Confusing the subtypes of a health condition could cause a patient significant harm or death.

Diagnostic errors can occur for many different reasons. For example, a patient may have two health conditions that are related. A doctor may catch one condition while missing the other.

Doctors are not necessarily responsible for all diagnostic errors. Lab technicians can contaminate samples or use image testing equipment incorrectly. Equipment used to diagnose illnesses may contain defects.

Was My Misdiagnosis Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Some diagnostic errors are caused by medical malpractice. If you or a loved one were harmed by a diagnostic error, then you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney. An attorney could investigate your claim and help you discover whether malpractice occurred.

The Washington DC medical malpractice attorneys at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC can help investigate your claim at no cost. Our attorneys have a proven record of helping victims of medical mistakes and their families.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
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