Medical misdiagnosis can be a very serious problem, especially if the consequences of the medical misdiagnosis result in tragedy such as loss of quality of life or indeed loss of life itself. There can be several reasons why misdiagnoses have been made, which will be explained below.
Examples of Medical Misdiagnosis
Probably the most common type of medical misdiagnosis is when a medical professional (such as a general practitioner, consultant or medical specialist) has failed to diagnose a correct illness or ailment of a patient. This can be very serious and it is usually the case where the medical professional has overlooked symptoms. Often, this can lead to malpractice litigation.
For example, a doctor may be treating a patient for severe headaches. The doctor may not thoroughly check the patient completely (e.g. maybe a brain scan has not been administered) and it turns out that the patient in fact has a brain tumor. This tumor would be responsible for the headaches. It can be very hard to diagnose, but the doctor should always act on the cautious side. After all, it is a patient's life that may be at stake.
Another very common medical misdiagnosis is that of meningitis. This is mainly because not all of the symptoms are always present. For example, there may be a rash or high temperature which can lead a doctor to think that it is just a common illness. However, if the diagnosis of meningitis is not rapidly made, the consequences can be fatal. The importance of treating a victim who has meningitis quickly with the correct medication is absolutely vital if that patient has any chance of survival.
Sometimes the medical misdiagnosis can be a result of a breakdown in communication between nurses and doctors. However, when an error occurs, there is usually an investigation to determine exactly how and who caused the medical misdiagnosis. Everyone is capable of making mistakes, however in the medical profession, there is usually little to no margin for error. Doctors have to be absolutely certain of the decisions that they make. Often times, it is reported in the media that a hospital failed to detect an illness until it was too late, whereby that patient has to live with the consequences (or fails to live at all) of medical misdiagnosis.
Before medical misdiagnosis can be proven, all the facts have to be presented to an independent panel of experts. They will ask questions, and evidence will be presented before any decision is made. The case will be investigated thoroughly to see if the doctor could have avoided any of the consequences had he made a correct and timely diagnosis. Sometimes when a mistake has occurred, resulting in the death of a loved one, it can be a very difficult time to really think about proving medical misdiagnosis has taken place. However, it is imperative that you do take action as soon as possible, if only to prevent the same thing happening to someone else. The sad truth is, mistakes are human nature and will never be completely removed from the medical profession (or any other field). You just have to hope that, when a medical misdiagnosis is made, it's caught before consequences become severe.