A recent report from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland has found that the total number of deaths and major disabilities that result each year from misdiagnosis has affected an estimated 795,000 Americans annually. This new report follows a 2022 study performed by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality which estimated 7.4 million misdiagnoses occurring annually in US Emergency Rooms alone.
According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine report, the top five misdiagnoses conditions were lung cancer, stroke, sepsis, pneumonia, and venous thromboembolism, with these top five conditions making up 38.7% of all misdiagnosis cases which resulted in death or major disability. The researchers who worked on the report remarked that the findings were not surprising, considering the general understanding that diagnostic errors are a significant cause of medical error that results in harm to patients.
The researchers advised patients to be vigilant when it comes to their health by being prepared for doctors visits with a list of symptoms, keeping track of your personal medical history, and asking questions throughout your medical journey, including questioning if the diagnosis was correct in the first place.
It is always advised if a patient has doubts about their diagnosis or treatment options to get a second opinion. While second opinions are important any time a patient is faced with a new diagnosis or has uncertainty about their diagnosis, research shows the earlier you get the second opinion, the better. A delayed diagnosis can result in a harder to treat condition than if you were diagnosed correctly in the first place, and can lead to more complicated diagnoses and treatment plans, worse patient outcomes, and greatly increased medical expenses in the event of a missed diagnosis. On the opposite end, a misdiagnosis could result in unnecessary procedures, surgeries, and greatly increased medical expenses should your diagnosis result in a treatment plan that includes unnecessary biopsies, surgeries, or medical interventions.