You can’t get good treatment if you don’t have the correct diagnosis. And according to a study at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, approximately 20 percent of patients seeking a second opinion about serious medical issues had initially received an incorrect diagnosis from their primary care providers.
Another study in 2015 found that doctors misdiagnosed one in five patients who had been seeking outpatient care. That study also found that most people will suffer from a misdiagnosis or a late diagnosis at some point in their lives.
Why misdiagnosis matters
When doctors miss diagnoses or diagnose conditions too late, it can have devastating consequences for patients. What initially might have been a highly treatable disease can progress to the point where quality of life becomes compromised, or in the worst-case scenario, treatment may simply no longer be possible.
A near miss
In the Mayo Clinic study, not all of the patients seeking a second opinion had initially received a completely incorrect diagnosis. Some diagnoses were on the right track, but required clarification. But even in these cases, an almost-right diagnosis can lead to treatment that is only partially effective, furthering injuries that could have been prevented had doctors made correct diagnosis in the first place.
After an injury
It can be difficult to sue a doctor; especially one with whom you have a longstanding relationship, as many people do with primary care doctors. But when a primary care doctor fails to diagnose a serious condition correctly, and you or your loved one suffers as a consequence, it can be valuable to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn about your options.