Some conditions have telltale signs that make them easy to diagnose. Other diseases can be difficult to detect, even for experienced health care providers. Consider getting a second opinion if you or a loved one has symptoms of one of these commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions.
According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University that reviewed nearly 12,000 misdiagnosis cases, about 37% of such occurrences involve cancer. Lung cancer is the most common type of misdiagnosed cancer, followed by breast, prostate and skin cancers. The researchers found that cancer misdiagnosis most often occurred in an outpatient setting.
Symptoms vary based on the type of cancer and often mimic the signs of other illnesses. Depending on the type of cancer, the person may experience unexplained weight loss, fever, and digestive or respiratory problems.
Stroke, heart attack and severe blood clots represented 22% of misdiagnoses in the Johns Hopkins study. A 2017 study published in the journal Neurology found that ER staff misdiagnosed about 9% of patients presenting with symptoms of a stroke. This is a significant concern as immediate medical care can limit the extent of disability that occurs after a vascular event.
Most often, health care providers confuse stroke, hemorrhage or transient ischemic attack with mild vascular events or migraine headaches. A doctor may misdiagnose a heart attack as muscle pain, pulmonary embolism, acid reflux, indigestion or anxiety. If you experienced prolonged illness, disability or complications as a result of a misdiagnosis, you may qualify for legal damages. In Pennsylvania, you have seven years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.