doctor mistake

Misdiagnosis: 5 Conditions Doctors Often Mistake for Something Else

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doctor mistakeOutpatient diagnostic errors happen – and they happen more frequently than you might think. A study published in BMJ Quality and Safety says misdiagnosis happens to 1 in 20 Americans. In other words, there are over 12 million cases of misdiagnosis every year.

Misdiagnosis may have harmful effects. These effects can be bases for a medical malpractice case, say the lawyers from Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. But of course, it’s best to avoid experiencing any of these effects altogether. As such, both doctors and patients should be well aware of which conditions are quite tricky in terms of diagnosis. Here are five conditions medical professionals often mistake for something else:


Breast cancer, lymphoma, melanoma, and sarcomas top the list of commonly misdiagnosed cancers, according to a national survey. In terms of frequency, cancer misdiagnosis happens around 28% of the time. In most cases, the misdiagnosis happens because of inadequate information – be it in terms of patient evaluation, medical history, or lab tests.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease proves to be a challenge to diagnose, too. The reason for this is the difference of symptoms in every person. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation are almost always present, but some cases may include joint pain, depression, and headaches. In other cases, there are no visible symptoms at all.


There are two reasons for the misdiagnosis of depression.
The first one is because of the vagueness of its symptoms. The condition can include sadness, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and many more in just one case. As these symptoms overlap, it becomes harder to diagnose it.

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The second reason is because of the amount of information doctors need to conclude that the case is, indeed, depression. The condition calls for a complete physical exam, not to mention an exhaustive record of the patient’s medical history.


Fibromyalgia is also a condition doctors often mistake for typical rheumatic diseases – commonly, arthritis, lupus, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The symptom overlap that makes diagnosis more difficult, too.

Heart Attack

Heart attack is also part of the list. The feeling of a heart attack differs from patient to patient. The symptoms that might show up in young people – like chest paint – may not appear among seniors. This is why some doctors mistake heart attack for something else.

Being aware of these errors makes it easier to avoid misdiagnosis. Stay informed about these tricky conditions to make sure that your doctor diagnoses your disease correctly.