A misdiagnosis can lead to a number of complications for the patient. Some illnesses are more difficult to diagnose than others. Some illnesses have almost identical symptoms and completely different treatment plans. It is the doctor’s responsibility to identify the illness and distinguish it from similar conditions.

The NHS treats a whopping 243 million patients a year, and mistakes are bound to happen. The NHS’ error rate is 0.005 per cent, and a very small amount of misdiagnoses happen every year. But medical negligence does happen, and it can have an awful impact on the patient’s health. If you have been misdiagnosed recently, contact a medical negligence solicitor for further advice.

Why is misdiagnosis dangerous?

Misdiagnosis can lead to the wrong treatment plan and further illness. The doctor may prescribe the wrong medication, which could cause symptoms to worsen over time. Medications are used to target very specific conditions and symptoms. When used incorrectly, medication can exacerbate certain conditions and make things much worse. For example, a doctor may misdiagnose their patient with generalised depression instead of bipolar depression. Some forms of antidepressants can make bipolar depression worse, causing the patient’s condition to decline.

What are the common diagnoses to get wrong?

Lyme disease is a systematic infection caused by a tick bite and is often misdiagnosed. The symptoms are shortness of breath, abdominal cramping, chest soreness, vomiting, twitching and much more. A doctor may misdiagnose this as the flu, chronic fatigue syndrome or meningitis.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Patients usually display tremors in their hands, arms and legs, and may struggle to walk. It can be mistaken for a stroke, head injury or essential tremor.

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive autoimmune disease that also attacks the central nervous system. It can be misdiagnosed as a viral infection, lupus, Alzheimer’s or bipolar disorder. The patient will likely have muscle spasms, balance problems, blurred vision and lack of coordination.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is one of the hardest conditions to diagnose. Patients often display a combination of symptoms and no known cause. They might have a sore throat, painful lymph nodes in the neck, unexplained muscle pain, extreme exhaustion and loss of memory. This can be mistaken for sinus problems, fibromyalgia, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Fibromyalgia is also commonly misdiagnosed for rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is a chronic arthritis-like disorder defined by widespread pain. The main symptoms are anxiety, depression, increased sensitivity to pain and fatigue.

All of these conditions have a similar combination of symptoms. It is important to pay attention to the defining symptoms and what makes each one different. Healthcare professionals must examine the broader picture to give an accurate diagnosis.