Legal Guide

4 Key Dangers of Misdiagnosis During Illness

Diagnosis is the most important stage of medical treatment. Catching the spread of an illness early, followed by a prescription for the correct medication or referral for the correct kind of treatment can have a positively transformative impact on a patient’s life.

No matter how well trained and intentioned medical professionals are, they’re also human: error is a fact of life and misdiagnoses can occur. The following list contains the 4 key dangers of misdiagnosis during illness. 

1. Creating a decline in the patient’s health

Administering or recommending the wrong medication, treatment, or surgery due to the misdiagnosis of an illness by a medical professional, can have far-reaching ramifications.

Harmful side effects of misdiagnosis can include prolonged illness, organ damage or even disability. 

With a 2012 research report claiming that 25% of British women have misdiagnosed their own illnesses using internet search engines before proceeding to purchase remedies on the high street in an attempt to cure themselves, it’ clear the misdiagnosis of serious illnesses is a very real issue that is not confined to the doctor’s surgery. 

2. Time sensitive illnesses

One of the most severe dangers of misdiagnosis during illness is a failure to treat a time-sensitive illness.

Cancer is the most commonly misdiagnosed or undetected form of illness, which can have potentially fatal consequences. Modern medical innovations enable doctors to detect certain forms of cancer, such as colon cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer and testicular cancer at early stages.

Research indicates that the earlier one detects cancer, the more likely a patient is to survive. The five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed during Stage 1 of breast cancer, for example, is 100 per cent. 

However, a doctor’s failure to maintain an acceptable standard of care can see to it that these cancers sometimes get missed in their earliest stages, increasing the likelihood of them spreading and requiring more painful treatment. A severe delay can even result in the cancer becoming untreatable.

3. Excess financial strain

When you are severely ill, you should be able to focus solely on recovery. But if misdiagnoses are made, the extra time off work and subsequent mounting bills can put you under undue financial stress; stress is also often cited as a contributing factor in the worsening of patients’ medical conditions.   

If your illness has been misdiagnosed and you are subsequently left suffering from crippling debt, you may consider making aclinical negligence claim to offset some of the undue financial burdens that have been placed upon you by a medical professional’s incompetence.

4. Death

Death is an uncomfortable topic, but it’s a very real potential danger when it comes to misdiagnosis of an illness.

The body is a complex beast and administering the wrong treatment for illnesses causes the unnecessary deaths of thousands of patients each year in the UK alone.

Misdiagnosis, furthermore, has potentially fatal consequences in the area of mental health. Bipolar disorder, for example, is a commonly misdiagnosed illness, owing to the complexity of its symptoms. In this case, mistreatment can result in the frequency of manic episodes, which increases the risk of a patient committing suicide. 

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