|Source: Rhoda Baer, National Cancer Institute.|
There's little denying that the technological, research, and medicinal aspects of patient care are improving at breakneck speed. But sometimes, even the best medical care in the world just isn't enough to help someone. Occasionally this is because of the nature of a disease itself (i.e., many diseases still aren't well understood or are resistant to current medication), but in other case cases it's because of a patient being improperly diagnosed or receiving a delayed diagnosis.
The onus of a misdiagnosis is often placed on the physician, and with good reason -- they're the doctors, and we expect them to be all-knowing. However, plenty of misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses can also be attributed to patient negligence in failing to take action in a timely manner when symptoms present themselves. Disease misdiagnosis is a two-way street that has plenty of room for improvement, but until recently had also been largely misunderstood -- that is, until a study in 2009 shed light on the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases.
Before this study, there had been no large database chronicling misdiagnoses, thus leaving no way for patients or physicians to know what diseases they should pay extra special care in diagnosing. And that's kind of a big deal, with as many as 98,000 people dying each year from preventable diseases because of medical errors.