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Misdiagnosis is incredibly common in the medical industry and doesn’t always lead to serious consequences. It can actually be a crucial aspect is re-evaluating a patient’s treatment and finding the right diagnosis for their new symptoms.

However, there are times when misdiagnosis causes serious damage to the patient, especially when it happens among the “big three,” which are infections, cancers and vascular events.

Breakdown of the big three

According to Medical News Today, 75% of serious harm due to misdiagnosis came from either cancers, infections or vascular events.

The big three cover almost 15 conditions, including lung cancer, stroke, heart attacks and clots in the leg. If any of these go unchecked by a doctor, it causes serious ramifications that some patients will never recover from.

Due to the severity of the symptoms correlated to these conditions, the misdiagnosis usually happens in an emergency where doctors and nurses are working quickly to treat a patient for the most obvious symptoms.

Most doctors are actively working to get the right diagnostics on the first treatments. Dr. David Newman-Toker, Ph.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence, even told Medical News Today that they are working on a new system to combat diagnostic mistakes.

There are dozens of different diagnosis ‘codes’ that all represent strokes. The same is true for heart attacks and some of the other conditions as well. These differences often matter more for treatment than diagnosis.

To my knowledge, grouping these codes together to identify the most common harms from diagnostic error had not been done before, but doing so gives us an ‘apples to apples’ comparison of the frequency of different diseases causing harms.

Along with categories, medical professionals will need to incorporate better communication between departments and education among specialists to pick up on severe symptoms quickly.

For patients, if they suffer from a misdiagnosis of the big three, they may have to rely on medical malpractice claims when applicable to cover the large medical bills associated with those treatments.