In the medical field, there are three conditions, known as the “Big Three,” that are frequently misdiagnosed: cancers, vascular events and infections. It was only recently that a study, conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, looked into the actual rate at which patients with one of the “Big Three” are misdiagnosed. Louisiana residents may want to know what the results are.

The study focused on five of the most misdiagnosed conditions under each of the three categories. Among cancers, for example, were lung, breast and prostate cancer. The vascular events included heart attack and stroke while infections ranged from sepsis and pneumonia to spinal abscesses. Overall, 1 in 10 patients analyzed who had one of these 15 conditions was the victim of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

The rate of errors ranged from 2.2% for heart attack patients to 62.1% for patients with admittedly rare spinal abscesses. Some of the percentages only seemed low; for instance, 8.7% of stroke patients were misdiagnosed, but stroke is widespread, so the total number of patients who are misdiagnosed may still be high.

The rate at which those misdiagnosed patients suffered serious harm also varied. It was 1% for a heart attack but 36.5% for spinal abscesses. Researchers say that if doctors make it a priority to quickly diagnose these 15 conditions, almost half of all diagnosis-related issues would be prevented.

In the meantime, doctors may continue to make errors out of negligence: that is, out of a failure to adhere to objective standards of medical care. When patients are injured as a result of such errors, they may seek compensation under medical malpractice law. One thing a patient may consider is to consult a lawyer who works in this field to see how strong the case is. The lawyer may handle every step of the filing process, including negotiations.