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Types of Misdiagnosis
There are many types of medical misdiagnosis however broadly speaking the term can be divided into two areas – severe and partial.
Severe misdiagnosis refers to a time when an incorrect diagnosis is given by a general practitioner, specialist or other medical professional. This error can lead to the patient being treated for the wrong condition, not being treated for a condition at all, or being treated for a condition when one simply does not exist. This could have serious consequences, for example a false positive test could lead to a patient undergoing an unnecessary mastectomy.
Even if the diagnosis is corrected at a later date, the delay can have disastrous consequences because many conditions, such as lung and skin cancers, are thought to respond better to early treatment. In the worst case scenario, a delayed diagnosis can even lead to the original condition becoming terminal. A partial misdiagnosis (or ‘wrong subtype diagnosis’) occurs when the doctor recognises the correct condition, but fails to identify the correct subtype of that condition. For example, the doctor might diagnose the wrong type of heart disease, or diagnose type 1 diabetes when the patient actually has type 2 diabetes.
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