The Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Diseases

A few seconds can save a life! This might sound like a cliché or an over-exaggeration, but it is often true . .. especially in the emergency room or at the doctor’s office, where a timely diagnosis can literally be the difference between life and death.

The Importance of a Quick Diagnosis

When someone is experiencing symptoms of a medical condition, a prompt diagnosis plays an important role. When someone’s health condition is quickly diagnosed, the patient can get the necessary treatment. In some cases, this might mean taking a medication or making a lifestyle change to control a health condition, like high blood pressure, before it causes serious harm. In others, it might be discovered that they need surgery right away.

This is why a medical professional’s failure to diagnose a medical condition can have such massive consequences. Failure to diagnose occurs when a doctor fails or neglects to recognize a patient’s illness or misdiagnoses their illness. When this happens, it can lead to a delay in treatment or even a total lack of treatment. In some instances, a failure to diagnose could even lead to a patient’s death. For example, if someone’s cancer is not diagnosed at an early stage, they may miss the window for chemotherapy.

How Failure to Diagnose Occurs

Since failure to diagnose has such life-threatening implications, it falls under the umbrella of medical malpractice. A failure to diagnose can occur when a medical professional:

  • Dismisses the patient’s symptoms as something else
  • Misreads a test or lab report
  • Fails to properly perform routine tests, like a mammogram
  • Provides inadequate information to the patient
  • Fails entirely to diagnose a medical condition

Commonly Misdiagnosed Diseases

Any kind of health condition, from cancer to anxiety, can cause long-term problems if a doctor fails to diagnosis their condition in a timely manner. However, there are some conditions that are misdiagnosed more than others. According to AARP, these include:

  • Lupus
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lyme Disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Celiac Disease
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

These diseases are likely among the most often misdiagnosed or ignored because they have symptoms they mimic other diseases. For example, someone with Lyme disease might have flu-like symptoms, leading to a misdiagnosis.

Heart attacks and strokes are also commonly misdiagnosed, as symptoms like chest pains, numbness, or difficulty with speaking or walking could be chalked up to a less severe health event. This is especially true for women, who often have heart attack and stroke symptoms that are different from the “normal” symptoms.

Seeking Help

As a patient, you can take some steps to avoid a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose by being honest about your symptoms and asking questions.  Ultimately, though, your doctor or other health care provider has a duty to uphold a certain standard of care, and you should speak to a medical malpractice attorney if you believe that have experienced a delay in treatment or a failure to diagnose.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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