You depend on your doctor to be able to tell you what is wrong and determine a course of treatment, but doctors, like everyone else, are prone to making mistakes. When physicians fail to diagnose your condition or diagnose it too late, though, the repercussions may prove serious and even life-threatening.
Unfortunately, doctors misdiagnose serious medical conditions entirely too often. AARP reports that American doctors misdiagnose more than 20% of all serious medical conditions and that their original diagnoses need updating in another 66% of cases. What happens when doctors misdiagnose you and is there anything you might do to protect yourself?
Repercussions associated with medical misdiagnosis
When doctors misdiagnose your condition, it may lead to serious complications and hardships. You may wind up undergoing intensive and unnecessary medical procedures, which may threaten your health and cost you a hefty sum of money. You may also miss out on potentially life-saving treatments, which is common among cancer patients who have their conditions misdiagnosed.
Research also suggests that medical mistakes lead to about 10% of all patient deaths. They also have a hand in between 6% and 17% of all adverse events reported by hospitals.
The importance of second opinions
Visiting another doctor for a second opinion is important when your physician tells you you have something serious, or when he or she wants you to undergo a serious procedure or treatment regimen. Also, if you have begun taking medication for a particular disease or condition and it is not working as intended, this may also merit a second opinion. Find more about misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose on our webpage.