Medical errors are things that occur which should not. They are almost always due to human mistakes that a person could avoid making if he or she follows the proper protocols.
Regardless, medical errors happen all the time and are a leading cause of serious injury and death in a healthcare setting. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the most prevalent errors relate to mistakes in diagnosis.
Diagnosis errors include incorrectly diagnosing a patient, delaying diagnosis and missing a diagnosis. These errors are often serious because they all delay proper treatment. In some situations, a delayed diagnosis can compound issues for the patient.
For example, treating cancer is more successful the earlier a doctor can discover it. If your doctor fails to diagnose your cancer and you go months before you get the correct diagnosis, that is months your cancer cells have had to grow and multiply. You are likely much worse off than you were at the initial appointment where the doctor made an error.
Diagnosis errors may occur for many reasons. They could be a result of other errors. For example, a mistake at the lab could return incorrect results that the doctor accepts and uses for diagnosis. The bottom line, though, is it comes down to the doctor who needs to take all the factors in your case to reach a diagnosis. If a mistake in the lab produces results that do not exactly match up with other findings, the doctor should do more investigation to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
Diagnosis mistakes may involve many different players, but ultimately, it is the job of your doctor to use his or her training and knowledge to figure out what is really happening by looking at the big picture and not just one piece of the puzzle.