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Medical Errors Commonly Start With The Diagnosis

In this day in age, it may come as a surprise to learn that medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States according to a recent study conducted by the well-known Journal of the American Medical Association (see for the full article).   

However, what is more shocking is CBS News‘ report that 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year. A misdiagnosis by your health care provider is not only common, but it could cost you your health (or your life). In fact, diagnostic errors are the leading cause for malpractice lawsuits. The numbers on medical misdiagnoses are chilling.  

  • Overall, 10-15% of medical diagnoses are wrong.
  • 10-30% of breast cancers are missed on mammography.
  • The median delay in diagnosing an asthma patient is 3 years.
  • 12-51% of patients that go to the ER with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the area of the brain) are misdiagnosed.

            Common conditions that are frequently misdiagnosed are:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary Embolism

What does all of this mean for patient safety?  BMJ, an international health journal on healthcare improvement, gives sound advice, “In God we trust, all others bring data”.  Patients should not be so trusting with a medical diagnosis without questions, confirmation, and more questions. The following are helpful tips that may help prevent a medical misdiagnosis:

  • Document your symptoms by keeping a diary with a timeline.
  • Tell your doctor everything, even the seemingly minor details.
  • Ask questions and be persistent about follow-up (this includes medications and/or abnormal test results, and if something does not seem right, don’t stop asking questions).
  • If there is any doubt, get a second opinion.

For more information on patient safety, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at

If you believe that you are victim of a medical misdiagnosis, contact Gilman & Bedigian, LLC at 410-560-4999 for a free legal consultation.  

The information contained in this Website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from this site, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. The content of this Website contains general information and may not reflect current law, statutes, regulations, legal developments, verdicts or settlements. The Firm expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this Website.


About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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