Common Causes Of Medical Diagnostic Errors

Posted on: 22 October 2019


You can suffer serious medical consequences if a doctor makes an error and fails to diagnose your health condition correctly or in time. If you can prove the doctor's mistake, then you would have a viable medical malpractice case. The following are some of the causes of medical diagnostic errors.

Faulty Lab Tests

Physicians rely on a variety of things to diagnose health conditions, from patient histories to laboratory tests. A mistake in any of these things can lead to misdiagnosis. Consider a case where a laboratory test goes awry, and the laboratory technician doesn't spot pathogens in a blood sample. In such a case, the physician may fail to arrive at the correct diagnosis because they will think you don't have the suspected pathogens in your bloodstream.

Workplace Pressure

Physicians in understaffed medical facilities sometimes face so much pressure that they are prone to making errors. They work long hours and have to see numerous patients. This causes both physical and mental exhaustion, which can cause even the best physician to make a diagnostic mistake.


Intoxication impairs judgment, vision, and even physical stability. Some people also feel drowsy when intoxicated. This means a doctor who reports to work while drunk can easily miss seeing something that they would have noticed when sober. Medical facilities have rules against working while intoxicated.

Poor Communication

Poor communication between a physician and their patient can also lead to misdiagnosis. Maybe the patient doesn't open up about their medical history, and the physician doesn't probe enough. For example, a physician who is dealing with family problems at home may come to work with their troubles and fail to communicate with their patients as effectively as they normally do.

Poor Patient Transfer

Transferring a patient from one physician or medical facility to another can also lead to a misdiagnosis if the transfer is not handled properly. For example, miscommunication may arise during the transfer, or some test results/medical test results might fail to make it to the new patient or medical facility.

Unusual Illness

The risk of misdiagnosing an unusual illness is higher than the risk of misdiagnosing a common illness. The rarer a disease is, the harder it may be to diagnose. Therefore, a patient who comes in with a new or undiscovered ailment is likely to be misdiagnosed.

Not every diagnostic error will rise to the level of medical malpractice. If you think your doctor made a mistake, then you should consult an attorney to review the circumstances of the injury and advise you on the way forward.

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