Medical misdiagnosis is a critical issue that can result in detrimental effects on a patient's health. When healthcare professionals fail to accurately identify and treat a condition, individuals may suffer from unnecessary treatments or delayed crucial interventions.
But there is also a strain on the patient’s mental health that is usually not considered unless it becomes evident. So, while it is essential for doctors to remain diligent and update their knowledge and best practices, we also have to talk about the misdiagnosed patients’ mental well-being.
In today’s article, we’ll take a look at this aspect and learn about the major impact misdiagnosis can have on a person’s mental health.
Why Do Misdiagnosis Occur?
According to a study by John Hopkins’ Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence, each year, around 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed. This results in around 80,000 yearly deaths that shouldn’t have happened and about 4 million patients who suffer unnecessary injuries.
These numbers are staggering, and yet, it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint one main reason why healthcare professionals misdiagnose patients. In a majority of cases, the fault is attributed to incorrect testing or malfunctioning systems, but there are also cases when bad judgment and sheer lack of competence play a role.
But there are other factors to consider, such as a lack of awareness about certain conditions (usually due to patients who don’t disclose certain health problems or incomplete patient history) or symptom overlap between diseases.
We also have to take into consideration systemic problems, overworked personnel, and the overall level of stress that healthcare professionals face on a daily basis.
All these factors and more can (and do) contribute to errors in diagnosing patients and impact the quality of care provided.
How to Handle a Misdiagnosis?
When your health and general well-being are under threat, it can feel isolating and frustrating. However, with proper guidance from a reliable medical team and support from your loved ones, you have a good chance to overcome a disease that was caught early on.
But what happens when you learn you were misdiagnosed by the very specialists you trusted with your life (quite literally)?
Let’s take a cancer misdiagnosis as an example. Cancer, even when diagnosed correctly and on time, is a mentally devastating diagnosis. But when your doctors can’t figure out what type of cancer you have or even if you truly have cancer, things can get dark really fast.
If this happens to you, one way to set things straight is to talk to an attorney for cancer misdiagnosis cases. Ask them to review your case and see if you are entitled to receive compensation for the physical and emotional suffering you had to go through.
Make sure to keep copies of all your medical records and bills – these will be extremely useful in the event of a negotiation or a lawsuit.
You should also talk to a mental health professional to get a checkup on your current mental state. Many cancer patients suffer from anxiety and depression, and a cancer misdiagnosis can easily aggravate these conditions.
And, even if your trust in healthcare professionals may have been shuttered, it is imperative to get yourself checked out by a different doctor. Also, put your new doctor in touch with your old doctor and speak openly about your situation.
It’s important to understand that a misdiagnosis is not personal (although it may seem that way to you). Doctors and healthcare workers are human as well, and errors do happen. So, even if you feel cheated by the system, it’s crucial to maintain a clear head and find the specialists who can provide the right assistance.