Patients expect a high standard of care when they check themselves into a hospital, clinic, or medical office. Unfortunately, death and chronic disabilities can arise from an error in diagnosis (misdiagnosis).

Given a doctor’s rigorous training and years of education, one may think that misdiagnosis only occurs on television. However, 12 million people are impacted by medical diagnostic errors each year, and an estimated 40,000-80,000 people die from these complications every year, according to Healthline. 

Why do medical misdiagnoses occur? Continue reading to learn more. 


The Reasons Why Misdiagnosis is Common

No adequate training for advanced diseases: Thousands of diseases can affect people, and patients rely on their doctors to be an expert on every disease. Although doctors are experts in their field, there may be some mysterious and advanced diseases they don’t have much background on. Doctors must test patients thoroughly because many diseases share similar symptoms. 

Failing to order proper testing: Doctors usually order specific tests depending on a patient’s symptoms. Unfortunately, underlying issues might go undetected if they don’t order the right tests. Some diseases can be missed entirely if a doctor only orders a test because of particular symptoms described by the patient because sometimes, people don’t fully explain their pain. Performing multiple tests is crucial to determine what condition the patient has. 

A patient’s symptoms may be too similar to other conditions: Major and minor health conditions may present similar symptoms that confuse a doctor. Some doctors don’t do further testing if they believe a condition is minor, even though it may be a serious problem. Often, it may be too late for a patient because they may have had a critical condition where time was of the essence. 

Discover the five most commonly misdiagnosed conditions below. 

1. Lupus: 

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease. Its symptoms include fatigue, heart, kidney, and lung damage, as well as joint pain. Symptoms of lupus are similar to those found in patients with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Tests include a complete blood count to assess the presence of anemia and anti-double-stranded DNA tests, which is the most specific test for this condition. 

2. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by sharp, widespread pain. Symptoms include anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity, pain, and debilitating fatigue. This condition can mimic chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s important to note there aren’t any diagnostic lab tests currently available; however, doctors can diagnose this condition in individuals who have been experiencing pain for at least three months and have at least 11 tender points. Tender points are spots in a person’s body that are extremely sensitive to the touch. 

3. Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of an individual’s central nervous system. Symptoms include tremors in hands, arms, legs, or head, as well as stiff muscles and problems with balance. Due to the imbalance, some people with this condition find it difficult to walk. Parkinson’s disease is similar to Alzheimer’s, traumatic head injury, chronic stress, and essential tremors. 

4. Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune disease that attacks a person’s central nervous system. Symptoms of this condition include muscle spasms, lack of coordination, cognitive impairment, and blurred vision. This condition is similar to lupus, Alzheimer’s, viral infection, and bipolar disorder. Testing includes blood tests to rule out other disorders, MRI scans to show brain and spinal cord damage, or a lumbar puncture. 

5. Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a systemic infection caused by a tick bite. Symptoms include shortness of breath, rash, fever, chills, body aches, neck stiffness, and swollen lymph nodes. A doctor will use a test to check for two different sets of antibodies, known as Borrelia IgM and IgG (immunoglobulin G). 


What Can I Do to Keep Myself Safe from Medical Misdiagnosis?

  • Ensure that all the healthcare team members, including pathologists and radiologists, are integral parts of your diagnostic team.
  • Ensure that your physician and other healthcare providers receive regular feedback on the accuracy of their diagnoses. 
  • Ensure your physician communicates all new updates to you and that they’re willing to call or text you as soon as they find out. 


Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton is Here for You

If you recently received an improper medical diagnosis, you may be feeling overwhelmed and concerned about your financial situation. At Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton, our team of expert personal injury attorneys can help you attain the compensation you deserve if your doctor acted negligently. 

We have offices throughout Utah County and West Jordan. We’re the only law firm based south of Salt Lake County dedicated solely to personal injury cases. Schedule your free case evaluation today