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Cancer misdiagnosis common, very harmful for patients

Misdiagnosis is a serious issue that many patients face in the United States. Studies show that misdiagnosis is more common than we think, with reports saying that up to 28 percent of patients are misdiagnosed. 

This is significant patient safety issue as misdiagnosis of a serious health issue like cancer and other conditions can cause a patient's death. Why does misdiagnosis happen? There are several reasons but studies show that physician errors and medical mistakes often cause misdiagnosis.

Some of the most common causes of misdiagnosis include doctors being overconfident, not having enough time with the patient, unreliable tools, bad testing protocols and limited knowledge of a certain medical condition.

When patients are misdiagnosed, they face serious complications and even death. Cancer misdiagnosis is unfortunately pretty common in the U.S. Having a cancer misdiagnosed as a less serious medical condition can lead to devastating consequences for the patient, even if the cancer is accurately diagnosed later on. Not being properly diagnosed with cancer right away means a patient is not receiving treatment as soon as they could be. This can mean the difference between life and death in some cases. 

Patients should know that doctors can be held liable for misdiagnosis. More medical malpractice cases are being filed for misdiagnosis in the U.S. as diagnostic tools and technology improves, making it easier for doctors to detect and diagnose certain conditions. 

Patients or families that have been affected by a misdiagnosis should consult a medical malpractice attorney to discuss what legal action they can take after negligence or mistakes cause misdiagnosis or harm to the patient. 

Source: The New York Times, "Missing a Cancer Diagnosis," Susan Gubar, Jan. 2, 2014

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