Misdiagnosis is an incorrect assessment of the patient’s illness type or stage. For example some individuals with malignant form of leukemia tend to suffer recurrent or persistent episodes of fever that could be misinterpreted with typhoid or malaria fever.
Also some lung cancer patients present with early symptoms of persistent and mild dry cough with or without history of fever that could be commonly mistaken with common upper respiratory infections.
The term misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis and failure to diagnose mean the same and are all types of diagnostic errors. In our example above, neoplastic fever or fever from malignant activity can be mistaken as typhoid fever or malaria fever.
Delayed diagnosis describes the time that has passed from when the correct diagnosis should have been made. For example if lung cancer was correctly diagnosed 2 months later, then there was a delayed diagnosis of lung cancer disease for 2 months.
There are devastating consequences of a misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis of the actual disease and these consequences vary depending on the severity of the disease.
Cancer misdiagnosis is regarded as one of the worst scenarios due to the aggressive activity of malignant cells in the body. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis allows cancer cells time to grow and spread compared to when these diseases should have been first detected.
Early detection of cancer has proved to significantly improve chances of patient survival. The earlier cancer disease is detected, the less extensive the disease will become. This also means that less invasive surgery, reduced high dose or short chemotherapy regimens and radiation treatments are required.
Like in other medical cases, cancer misdiagnosis is always a technical error. For cancer in particular, factors that may lead to misdiagnosis vary widely.
Some of the common causes include; the health expert’s failure to perform adequate patient physical exam, failure to order an indicated test, technological error during a test, misinterpretation of a test, and failure to correctly act on an abnormal test result.
Though many diagnostic errors can result from the doctor’s mistake or poor judgment, most cancer diagnosis problems are centered on the organizational weakness of the health care system.
This is because the health care system draws and puts up policies, resources that would provide adequate diagnostic procedures that in turn offer adequate time for patient evaluation.
Diagnostic resources and procedures, as well as adequate time for patient evaluation are one of important factors that can overcome misdiagnosis in cancer patients or patients at risk to develop cancer diseases. These factors are healthy practice or policy dependent.
In many African settings with few cancer physicians or oncologists, wide-scale cancer diagnostic procedures and cancer screening becomes a problem. In certain circumstances, it is difficult to screen a patient for cancer without adequate information on cancer illnesses.
You need to have enough clinical information on the function and abnormalities of a particular part of the body in order to notify or clarify some tricky problems that come-up.
Cancer management is always multi-disciplinary and various people with specialized disciplines can help people screen for cancer or diagnose early enough.
It is also advisable for people to keep their health records well. Sometimes diagnosis can be corrected or known during the second visit to the physician. A second opinion from a doctor is always very important and in most cases helps to rectify some errors in previous management.
Doctors sometimes rely on provided diagnostic information to form the second opinion in most follow-up cases and it’s very important to review the whole medical profile of the patient before you make the next plan.
Doctors and patients usually need adequate time to discuss about illness issues in order to develop mutual understanding on the treatment progression and follow-ups of the patient health. Some patients can easily localize lifestyle oriented illnesses unless they get help from physicians.
You cannot understand someone’s lifestyle unless you have had adequate discussion on what goes around.