Medical misdiagnosis can have a serious impact on people’s health, but thousands of people in Massachusetts continue to be affected every year. Across the country, around 12 million people deal with some type of misdiagnosis or other diagnostic error annually. In many of these cases, the issue is relatively small or quickly and easily corrected. However, in other situations, patients may face seriously worsened health conditions as a result. Up to 80,000 deaths each year are linked to diagnostic errors alone, sparking serious concern about the danger patients may face if their illnesses are diagnosed incorrectly.

One of the most serious diagnostic errors is the failure to diagnose cancer or another progressive disease. Getting early diagnosis and treatment is often key to a successful treatment result and improved survival for cancer patients. In some cases, however, a patient’s cancer goes undetected until it has reached an advanced stage that makes treatment difficult, costly or unlikely to succeed. While some of those cases may have been difficult or impossible to detect due to a lack of early symptoms, other patients go to the doctor to report pain, discomfort and other symptoms only to walk away with an incorrect diagnosis.

Patients who are incorrectly diagnosed may not receive the treatment they need to address their condition, leaving it to worsen over time. They may also receive improper medications for an incorrectly diagnosed condition, which can come with serious and long-lasting side effects. In some cases, patients raising serious issues may be dismissed due to stereotypes and bias; research has found that women and people of color are up to 30% more likely to be misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosis and other medical errors may lead to serious health problems and costly medical bills for the victims. Patients may consult with a medical malpractice attorney about pursuing compensation for their losses.