Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of serious medical conditions can be devastating for patients in Pennsylvania. Often, the fact that a patient has been misdiagnosed with the wrong condition does not become apparent until the patient dies and their body is autopsied. As a result, most of the data that researchers use to learn about misdiagnosis comes from autopsies.
Researchers looking into diagnostic errors that were revealed during autopsies have determined that certain types of conditions get misdiagnosed more often than others. These commonly misdiagnosed conditions include cancers, cardiovascular diseases and infectious diseases. Cardiovascular diseases that are commonly misdiagnosed include heart attacks, aortic dissections and strokes. Misdiagnosed infections usually concern diseases such as meningitis and sepsis. According to a 2009 study of physician-reported misdiagnoses, pulmonary embolism, drug reaction, drug overdose and lung cancer were the conditions that were most commonly misdiagnosed.