Failing to diagnose a patient isn’t uncommon, but it often doesn’t have a fatal outcome. That’s why many people will never know that they were actually misdiagnosed. For instance, someone who has a cold but who is told they have a flu will still likely recover over time. The misdiagnosis isn’t likely to result in any harm coming to the patient.
On the other hand, a misdiagnosis of a more serious condition, like a stroke, could be life-threatening. For instance, if a young adult comes to the emergency room complaining of head pain, they may initially be diagnosed with a migraine or a common ailment. Depending on their vital signs, they may not be tested for more serious issues.
If it later turns out that they had a blood clot or aneurysm, then that delay could be debilitating or deadly. That same person may end up with brain damage or other complications that may have been avoided with earlier diagnosis.
As a patient, what is important to do if you don’t agree with a diagnosis?
If a medical provider gives you a diagnosis that you don’t agree with, it’s worth having a conversation about why you don’t agree. If they persist in their diagnosis, it’s your right to see another medical provider to verify the diagnosis. If it can be confirmed, you’ll be able to rest easier knowing what’s wrong. If it is not the right diagnosis, the new medical provider could potentially give you the correct diagnosis in time to prevent significant injury.
If you do suffer an injury as a result of a delayed or misdiagnosis, it is important to make sure the medical provider is held responsible. They should know the impact their diagnosis had on your life.