Doctors are not infallible. It may seem like a controversial statement but it’s a simple fact. They’re human and can fall prey to the same workplace mistakes as the rest of us. However, a doctor’s mistake can have serious repercussions, especially when it comes to the diagnosis – or misdiagnosis – of medical conditions. It can be a case of life and death in the most literal sense, which is why doctors are held to such rigorous standards. And even then, mistakes do happen.
Each year approximately 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care in the United States are misdiagnosed, according to a new study published in the BMJ Quality & Safety Journal.
You should always feel able to trust in your doctor, but it’s important to keep in mind that human error applies in every profession, even the medical profession. With 12 million mistakes documented annually, let’s look at what the most common misdiagnosed conditions are.
In 2012, the American Diabetes Association, found that 29.1 million Americans – 9.3% of the population – had diabetes. That accumulates to roughly one in ten people. And of the 29 million that were successfully diagnosed, 8.1 million of those people were undiagnosed.
The initial symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are often difficult to distinguish from other less serious diseases. If you feel you haven’t been properly diagnosed, it’s always important to get a blood test to address your concerns.
Appendicitis is a tricky ailment to diagnose, given its initial similarity to various stomach aches and more common problems like IBS. Symptoms such as nausea, pain, tenderness around the belly button, and a fever, can often be written off as a combination of other issues. However if Appendicitis is left undetected it can have serious medical consequences.
According to the Mayo Clinic; “Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs.” The starting symptoms of Lupus can disguise themselves as more common ailments like a bad flu, which may lead to a doctor misdiagnosing the illness if a blood test isn’t taken.
4. Lyme Disease
This disease is usually spread through tick bites and can present as a nasty rash initially before developing into a more serious illness. The usual tell for Lyme Disease is a trademark bullseye rash – but if that isn’t present, it can often be misdiagnosed.
5. Parkinson’s Disease
Most people probably don’t know is that there are no lab test to diagnose this degenerative disorder. The tremors, stiffness, and balance issues, can often be attributed to other illnesses or situational issues such as anxiety or stress. If in doubt, a specialist neurosurgeon consult is the safest way to go.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a terrible illness that often goes undiagnosed. The similarities between IBS and short term illnesses like gastroenteritis means that it is often written off as less serious temporary illness.
The early stages of arthritis can look like a lot of other common illnesses or injuries, especially when the main problems are with stiffness or vague pains in the joints. This inflammatory disease can be detected with a blood test, so that should always be an option if you’re unhappy with your diagnosis to date.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread muscular pain accompanied by tiredness, sleep issues, and mood swings. This can often be written off as a mental issue such as depression or short term illnesses like influenza. This is a disorder that often isn’t taken seriously enough by the medical profession, so it’s important to stay on top of your treatment when seeking a Fibromyalgia diagnosis
9. Celiac Disease
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Celiac Disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine,” The average detection time for Celiac Disease is six years, as it is often confused with IBS, which is itself often misdiagnosed.
Clinical depression is often written off as short term anxiety or sadness instead of the life altering mental condition that it is. This can lead to further problems if not diagnosed in a timely manner and medicated appropriately.
Remember, a good doctor will never question you for wanting to get a second opinion or investigate a matter further. Doctors make mistakes every so often and sometimes it can be worth the effort to double check with a blood test in the event of any doubt.