Effective solutions to any problem require that the problem be correctly identified. When doctors miss a diagnosis or misdiagnose patients, the treatments they prescribe may work poorly, not at all or even make the problem worse.
What is the difference between a missed diagnosis and a misdiagnosis?
What is a misdiagnosis?
A misdiagnosis describes when a healthcare provider diagnoses a patient with an illness or condition that is different from the illness or condition the patient actually has. For example, if a doctor diagnosed someone with migraine headaches, but that person actually had a brain tumor, that would be a misdiagnosis.
What is a missed diagnosis?
A missed diagnosis happens when a medical provider fails to diagnose a condition. For example, if a patient goes to a doctor with a suspicious mole and the doctor says the mole is benign, but it is actually a cancerous growth, that is a missed diagnosis.
What are the consequences of incorrect diagnoses?
The consequences of incorrect diagnoses depend on the condition that the provider failed to correctly identify. Some conditions may resolve on their own without any permanent damage done to the patient. Other conditions may resolve, but the patient may have permanent injuries that the patient could have avoided with proper treatment. Some illnesses when left untreated or treated incorrectly can lead to death or permanent disability.
Incorrect diagnoses can have severe consequences for patients. In some cases, medical providers may be liable for injuries, illnesses or deaths caused by an incorrect diagnosis.