Experience You
Can Rely On
Get Started with a Free Consultation

How Often Do Misdiagnoses or Missed Diagnoses Happen?

Nichol & Associates, Attorneys at Law May 18, 2021

When you go to a Tennessee doctor to have symptoms checked out, you might assume that whether you get a clean bill of health or a prescription to treat the issue, your doctor has reached the correct conclusion about your condition. This might be the case, but according to experts, around 5% of outpatient visits nationwide result in either missed diagnoses or misdiagnoses.

Missed or Misdiagnoses

A missed diagnosis occurs when a physician or other medical professional mistakenly thinks that there is nothing wrong with a person at all. A misdiagnosis happens when a medical professional attributes the symptom to the wrong condition. An example of a missed diagnosis might be if a medical professional overlooks signs of cancer on an imaging test and tells the patient they are fine. A misdiagnosis would be if a medical professional identified the wrong cause of the symptoms. One common example might be heart attack symptoms dismissed as anxiety or indigestion.


At best, a person will recover despite the misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis. At worst, the person could be subject to the wrong treatment, harmful treatment or no treatment at all, and the result could be serious illness or even death.

Missed diagnoses or misdiagnoses may happen for a number of reasons. A person could have a rare condition, atypical symptoms or a condition with symptoms that mimic many other diseases. The process of diagnosis can be a long and frustrating one for both patient and doctor because it sometimes involves a process of elimination. However, if a patient feels as though they have not received a reasonable standard of care and that they have been harmed by a medical professional’s negligence, they might want to talk to an attorney about whether malpractice has occurred and how they might seek compensation.