When you seek medical help because you don’t feel well, you want your doctor to help you improve your health. That doesn’t always happen though. Sometimes, your symptoms continue. And sometimes, your doctor misdiagnoses your illness.
You may not realize though how often health care providers misdiagnose patient illnesses and health conditions. In the United States, about 12 million patients are misdiagnosed each year. Sadly, 40,000 to 80,000 of those patients die from complications relating to their misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis also is more common for women and minority patients.
Commonly misdiagnosed illnesses
Some of the illnesses most often misdiagnosed include the following:
- Lupus (symptoms: fatigue, rash, joint paint pain, heart or kidney problems)
- Parkinson’s disease (symptoms: tremors in hands, arms, legs or head or problems with walking)
- Cancer (most often lymphoma, breast cancer, sarcomas or melanoma are misdiagnosed)
- Stroke (often diagnosed as vertigo or as a migraine or intoxication)
- Lyme disease (symptoms: shortness of breath, soreness in the chest or ribs, nausea or neck stiffness)
- Fibromyalgia (symptoms: depression or anxiety, increased sensitivity to pain, severe fatigue)
- Multiple sclerosis (symptoms: tiredness, vision problems, weakness or dizziness)
Seeking a second opinion
Because of how common misdiagnosis is, seeking a second doctor’s opinion is important if your symptoms don’t improve or your physician diagnosed you with a life-threatening illness, such as cancer. If you discover a health care provider misdiagnosed you and that resulted in you suffering or becoming sicker, you may be a victim of medical malpractice.
Sometimes, you have to be your best advocate when seeking medical help. You might have to stand up for yourself and seek malpractice compensation if a misdiagnosis caused you harm.