5 Common Causes of Misdiagnosis and Diagnostic Errors


According to a report, medical diagnostic errors impact 12 million Americans yearly. Around 40,000 to 80,000 people die each year due to misdiagnosis complications. Misdiagnosis and diagnostic errors may cause severe harm to a patient’s health, physical pain and suffering, worsening of the victim’s condition, high medical bills, or loss of life. Here are five common causes of misdiagnosis and diagnostic errors.

1.    Failure to communicate test results

Not communicating diagnostic test results is one of the causes of medical misdiagnosis. Diagnosis communication is just as essential as diagnosis. Patients have the right to get timely and accurate test results. The effects could be severe or even fatal if unusual test results aren’t well reported. Medical tests, including diagnostics, screening, imaging, and laboratory tests, are highly likely to be miscommunicated. Test result miscommunication may be caused by physicians not acknowledging abnormal radiologic results, unreliable test result communication methods, and failure to alert patients of their abnormal test results.

Regardless of the medical tests conducted, if the results aren’t communicated appropriately and on time, and the patient consequently suffers harm, there’s a basis for medical negligence on the medical provider’s part. As a result, patients should get their details examined by experienced medical malpractice lawyers from trusted malpractice lawyers such as The Tinker Law Firm PLLC.

2.    Physician’s inexperience or overconfidence

If a patient’s test results are conducted by unskilled medical practitioners, a diagnostic error or misdiagnosis might occur due to the lack of the necessary experience to spot the signs of specific illnesses, determine when to call for particular medical tests or read and interpret test results correctly.

Alternatively, doctors might be significantly experienced, making them overconfident when making diagnoses depending on insufficient or little evidence. This may cause them to be inconsiderate of patient symptom changes and potential issues with their initial diagnoses.

3.    Diagnostic process complexity

Diagnostic procedures can be quite complex. Considering the number of known diseases and laboratory tests, there’s only a minute number of symptoms, meaning one of them could have dozens of possible explanations. While diagnostic testing might help clarify the issue, it requires clinical course observation, which takes time.

Errors may occur at varying stages of the diagnostic testing process, including acquiring a full patient history, conducting thorough examinations appropriately, getting the right tests, and interpreting them correctly.

4.    Insufficient time with patients

Statistics indicate that around 33% of American physicians spend 17 to 24 minutes with their patients because they’re usually limited in working directly with patients, which might impact patient care outcomes. This isn’t because they don’t care about the patients but because they need to tend to other patients and the increased demand for care.

Regrettably, the time physicians spend with their patients isn’t enough to understand a patient’s complete medical history, discuss all their concerns and symptoms, and analyze their test results to make the right diagnosis.

5.    Cognitive errors

Since doctors are humans, they’re likely to make the same mental mistakes everybody makes daily, including failure to notice key findings. They may also jump to conclusions or not consider other potential diagnoses.


Misdiagnosis and diagnostic errors may worsen a patient’s condition, causing pain and suffering, and even death. Familiarize yourself with the common causes of these issues to find ways to prevent them and ensure proper medical treatment.


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