Individuals are often frightened and intimidated when visiting a doctor’s office. They are likely either in pain or worried about an unusual condition, so they seek a professional opinion and reliable course of treatment. Unfortunately, a missed or delayed diagnosis can lead to unnecessary pain and additional symptoms before the condition is effectively treated.
Whether it is a delayed diagnosis, missed diagnosis or the incorrect diagnosis, medical professionals can inadvertently cause increased harm and worsening conditions in their patients. While each situation is unique, there are certain common factors that could lead to a misdiagnosis, including:
- Fragmentation of care: Due to focusing on a specific condition or a body region, primary care physicians often refer patients to other physicians at different departments or clinics when a new condition appears. All this moving around can lead to a disjointed patient history and lack of attention paid to areas of focus. Unfortunately, this fragmentation of care can lead to delayed treatment or missed symptoms.
- Improper use of diagnostic tests: Patients rely on medical professionals to act as expert diagnosticians in that they report symptoms, and the treatment is determined. Unfortunately, doctors often use diagnostic tests to both rule out possibilities while homing in on the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, ordering the wrong test or series of tests that examine contrary evidence can lead to a delayed diagnosis.
- Lack of proper monitoring: Once the doctor has approved a course of treatment, the healthcare facility must carefully monitor the patient to determine if the medication is working or if additional tests are required. If the medical professional simply assumes the treatment is working without verifying the data, the patient can suffer a catastrophic decline.
A misdiagnosis works against patients on numerous fronts. If the medical professional does not properly identify and treat the problem, it can lead to a worsening condition and severe symptoms. Additionally, a misdiagnosis can leave the patient suffering with the condition for an extended period which could lead to new conditions. Under numerous circumstances, a delayed or missed diagnosis can mean severe or fatal medical issues.