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Which conditions do doctors most frequently misdiagnose?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

It’s not easy being a doctor. There are thousands of possible illnesses and conditions to consider when someone comes to them.  While you might not expect a doctor to make the correct diagnosis the first time around for a disease they’ve never yet encountered, you’d expect them to get it right with the most common ones. Unfortunately, research shows they often don’t.

John Hopkins Medicine found that three conditions account for 74.1% of all misdiagnoses that result in serious harm. They are:

  • Cancers (37.8%)
  • Vascular events (22.8%) 
  • Infections (13.5%)

Those are all things doctors encounter every day. So why are they making mistakes? Reasons for mistakes vary but can include:

Failing to take sufficient care

Have you ever been to a doctor only to feel they were not listening or interested in what you had to say? Sometimes, doctors think they already know what is wrong with someone or think the person is wasting their time. Thus, they may not fully listen to the patient, read the patient’s records in enough detail or do enough research. Patience and attention are crucial in a doctor.

Distraction and stress 

Hospital emergency rooms, in particular, can be busy places. A doctor may be rushing around trying to see various people. Their phone might be ringing, calling them away to somewhere else. Or maybe something is playing on their mind – be it the death of a child they attended earlier or problems at home – which prevents them from concentrating on the patient in front of them. 

They might also be so stressed due to lack of sleep and high workload that their brain is not functioning, and even though they try their best, they miss a crucial sign that would help them make the correct diagnosis.

There are so many possible reasons for a misdiagnosis. Understanding more will be crucial if you or a loved one suffered harm due to a doctor’s error.


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