Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu

5 Common Causes Of Diagnostic Errors


A diagnostic error occurs when a diagnosis is delayed, wrong, or missed altogether. A delayed diagnosis is when a diagnosis should have been made earlier. A wrong diagnosis occurs, for example, when someone who’s having a heart attack is told the pain they are experiencing is due to indigestion. Lastly, a missed diagnosis is when a patient’s medical complaints are never explained.

Diagnostic error is a huge problem in the United States. Unfortunately, when medical professionals fail to diagnose patients or make the wrong diagnosis, the consequences can be devastating and possibly even fatal. Around 40,000 to 80,000 people die every year in America because of diagnostic errors. Below, we will discuss five common causes of diagnostic errors in the U.S.

Inexperience And/or Overconfidence

Sometimes, diagnostic errors happen due to inexperienced medical professionals. For example, if a doctor lacks the experience necessary to recognize symptoms of certain conditions, they might make a diagnostic error. Also, a medical professional might make a diagnostic error if they do not have the experience necessary to:

  • know when to conduct certain medical tests; or
  • know how to read the results of medical tests correctly

In other cases, diagnostic errors happen because of overconfident medical professionals. For example, even if a doctor feels certain that they know what the symptoms are pointing to, if they do not listen to the patient, they might make a diagnostic error. Overconfidence can also cause a doctor to ignore changes in a patient’s symptoms, thus resulting in a diagnostic error.

Personal Bias

Sometimes, doctors personally connect with certain patients more than others. Although this is understandable, a connection between a doctor and a patient can lead to the under-treatment or over-treatment of that patient. It is crucial that doctors focus on following best practices in diagnosis regardless of which patient they are dealing with to avoid diagnostic errors.

Insufficient Time With Patients

According to research, doctors spend less than twenty minutes with each of their patients during appointments. Unfortunately, less than twenty minutes is not enough time for a doctor to discuss all their patient’s symptoms, get a complete picture of their patient’s medical history, review their patient’s medical test results, and make a proper diagnosis. Often, the lack of enough time with patients results in diagnostic errors.

Lack of Follow-Up

In most cases, patients see different doctors. For example, a patient might see one doctor and then decide to go to another one if they change insurers. In other situations, doctors place the responsibility of following up on the patients themselves. If a new doctor does not follow up or if a patient does not inform their doctor about changes in their condition, then a patient could end up bearing the adverse effects of a diagnostic error.

Lack of Diagnostic Testing

Sometimes, a lack of diagnostic testing occurs because of insurance constraints on the part of patients. Other times, a lack of diagnostic testing occurs because of doctors’ inexperience and overconfidence.

Contact an Atlanta Diagnosis Error Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered harm because of a diagnostic error that occurred because of a medical professional’s negligent act, you might be entitled to seek compensation. An experienced Atlanta diagnosis error attorney at Carroll Law Firm can help you with your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn