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It may seem incredible that a doctor could have missed blatant symptoms of cancer. Unfortunately, cases of cancer misdiagnosis happen frequently—so often, in fact, that cancer is the second-most common misdiagnosed condition in the United States.
A recent study done by five Florida physicians pinpointed the top five commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions that result in death. After examining 31 separate autopsy reports and malpractice claims, the research found that the most common fatal misdiagnosed conditions included:
- Infections. Victims are more likely to receive an infection misdiagnosis than any other. This misdiagnosis is particularly harmful to children; the journal Pediatrics estimated that roughly half of all children are improperly diagnosed with a viral infection instead of a bacterial infection over the course of a typical year.
- Cancer. About one in eight cancer cases are initially misdiagnosed, with melanoma topping the list of types of commonly misdiagnosed cancers. The reasons for misdiagnosis vary from assuming a growth is benign without ordering additional testing, to misreading test results or overlooking subtle early symptoms.
- Heart attacks. Many symptoms of a heart attack can be misleading, such as an upset stomach or trouble breathing. Since emergency treatment is crucial for the survival rate of heart attack victims, it is vital that patients insist on thorough testing to rule out cardiac problems.
- Pulmonary embolism. Many post-surgical patients are warned about the possibility of suffering a blood clot. The truth is, blood clots (such as deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms) are the leading cause of preventable patient death in hospitals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 1% of all surgical patients nationwide will develop a blood clot that can potentially travel to the lungs, heart, or brain.
- Cardiovascular disease. Already the leading cause of death in the U.S., heart disease is also likely to be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed in millions of patients nationwide.
Although these conditions may be mistaken for other maladies, doctors are still responsible to follow up with their patients closely to determine if a diagnosis was accurate. Doctors who assume they are seeing “classic” signs of acid reflux may not feel the need to order an EKG—a decision that could cost a heart attack victim his life.
If your family member died because of a misdiagnosed condition, we can help. Contact the Kentucky medical misdiagnosis attorneys at Gray and White today at 800.634.8767 or fill out the contact form on the top of this page to find out your legal options in your FREE case evaluation.