Diagnostic mistakes by doctors are far more common than you think

That dry itchy patch of skin could be the result of an allergic reaction to a new soap, a ringworm infection or the sign of a much more serious autoimmune issue. You will only know the true cause when you go to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Generally, the knowledge acquired from years of schooling and experience from years of treating patients makes it easy for doctors to identify the causes of different symptoms. Unfortunately, sometimes doctors make mistakes during their diagnostic process which have devastating consequences for their patients.

Someone who does not receive an accurate diagnosis might go without treatment. They could also receive treatment that they don’t need, which could cause all kinds of problems. You might think that diagnostic mistakes are rare, but the evidence says that they are not.

Thousands of doctors make mistakes in patient care every single day

With hundreds of millions of Americans, thousands of people have routine medical appointments every weekday, with many more meeting unplanned care after an accident or an illness. Most of these patients will receive appropriate care, but some of them will not receive the support they need from the medical establishment.

An analysis of data by medical researchers paints a grim picture of the state of medicine in the United States. A shocking 12 million people each year have to deal with medical consequences due to diagnostic mistakes or delays. Of those 12 million adversely-affected patients, between 40,000 and 80,000 will die because of the diagnostic error they experience.

Realizing that your doctor has made a diagnostic error may only occur when their planned treatment fails or when your condition continues to progress despite the treatment.

Diagnostic failures mean big costs for you

If you’re like most Americans, your health care comes with a hefty price tag. You have to meet a deductible and then pay coinsurance for the treatment you receive. You may have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on unnecessary medical care due to a diagnostic mistake.

Beyond that, needing different treatment or having your condition get worse might mean future expenses, as well as more time off work. A medical malpractice claim can compensate you both for the direct losses you suffer, like the medical bills as a result of a failed diagnosis, as well as other losses, like lost wages because your condition got worse instead of better.

Learning about medical malpractice and taking action could benefit you and your family as you recover from your condition.