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How comorbidities can lead to diagnostic mistakes

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Reaching an accurate diagnosis can be a lengthy process. When someone has a rare medical condition or an illness that presents unusual symptoms when compared with the average patient, it can take doctors a considerable amount of time and effort to arrive at the appropriate diagnosis. Doctors may need to refer patients out to specialists and secure highly-specific testing to properly diagnose someone’s condition.

Unfortunately, diagnostic mistakes are still very common despite the prevalence of high-quality imaging tests and even genetic sequencing for diagnostic purposes. Frequently, overworked doctors will rush to conclusions instead of thoroughly investigating the cause of someone’s symptoms. This can lead to misdiagnosis. Other times, doctors fail to rule out the possibility of comorbid conditions and therefore fail to treat someone appropriately.

Doctors fail to consider overlapping illnesses

There are numerous conditions that tend to correlate with one another. Those with heart disease often also have high blood pressure. A combination of those two conditions also has a known correlation with the increased chance of type 2 diabetes.

There are many other medical illnesses with common comorbidities and also plenty of individuals who have one medical condition compounded by a secondary diagnosis. Doctors need to focus on precision when diagnosing someone. That includes determining what, if any, secondary conditions may contribute to, exacerbate or hide their symptoms.

When doctors fail to evaluate comorbidities and explore secondary medical conditions, they may not fully resolve someone’s symptoms or may leave another medical issue untreated. Sometimes, the combination of conditions might make another treatment option the best choice, which is why timely and thorough diagnosis is so important for people’s care.

What happens after a doctor fails?

Some diagnostic mistakes delay patient care or hurt them by subjecting them to unnecessary treatment. Other times, diagnostic mistakes can have catastrophic consequences, including death for the patient involved. Those directly affected by diagnostic mistakes or who lost the loved one and believe that medical oversight was part of the cause may need to look into a medical malpractice claim.

Filing a medical malpractice claim can result in a compensation award for those who have been harmed by a medical professional. This approach may even inspire a change in how a doctor or facility handles similar cases in the future.