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Understanding Misdiagnosis vs. Missed Diagnosis

Published in Medical Malpractice on March 20, 2024

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Navigating the complexities of healthcare can sometimes lead to challenging situations, particularly when it involves errors in the diagnosis of patients. Misdiagnosis, where a patient is incorrectly identified as having a particular condition, and missed diagnosis, where a condition goes undiagnosed entirely, are both serious and damaging scenarios. Either scenario can significantly impact a patient’s health in a negative manner, making it vital to recognize and understand the differences between a misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis. These issues highlight the importance of clear communication and thorough evaluation in healthcare to ensure every patient receives the most accurate and effective care possible. If you have suffered due to a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim.

The Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to helping victims of misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis understand their rights as they relate to pursuing justice for their losses. With more than 45 years of experience and extensive knowledge of cases involving medical malpractice, our legal team has recovered millions for clients in Massachusetts. Speak with one of our trusted medical malpractice lawyers today for a free case assessment at (617) 391-9001 or fill out a contact form.

What Is the Difference Between a Misdiagnosis and Missed Diagnosis?

If you have suffered harm as a result of what you believe to be medical malpractice, this may be due to a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis on the part of the medical professional who was caring for you. While both a misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis are serious issues, it is important that you understand the difference and which may better describe what caused your harm.


Misdiagnosis occurs when a patient is incorrectly diagnosed with a condition that they do not have. This can happen for several reasons. Some ways a misdiagnosis could occur is due to the following:

  • Incorrect medical tests
  • Misinterpreting test results
  • Not considering all possible diagnoses

The consequences of misdiagnosis can be significant, as patients may receive unnecessary treatment that can cause them harm. Additionally, a misdiagnosis can result in patients being denied effective treatment for their actual condition.

Missed Diagnosis

A missed diagnosis occurs when a patient’s condition goes unrecognized and undiagnosed by the medical professional tasked with caring for them. Several factors can contribute to this oversight, including lapses in clinical judgment or oversight. At times, a diagnosis might also be missed if a healthcare professional mistakenly believes a patient might not be presenting symptoms truthfully.

The ramifications of a missed diagnosis are profound, affecting patients health and overall well-being. Without a correct diagnosis, a condition can worsen, potentially leading to more serious health complications or even life-threatening situations. Beyond the physical impact, patients may experience significant emotional distress and face financial challenges due to the lack of appropriate treatment. It is a situation that underscores the importance of thorough and compassionate care in the medical field, ensuring that patients receive timely and accurate diagnoses.

If you have been the victim of either a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, you deserve justice for the losses you have suffered as a result of the liable party’s negligence. To ensure you are able to pursue the justice and compensation you deserve, contact a trusted medical malpractice lawyer today.

Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help With Your Medical Malpractice Claim

Navigating the aftermath of a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis that caused an injury and losses is a challenging journey for individuals trying to understand what their legal options are. At Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers, we have the experience and resources to navigate the complexities of medical malpractice cases like yours. Attorney J. Tucker Merrigan is one of our co-managing partners who has been with the firm for more than ten years. From 2015-2021, Attorney Merrigan was named a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Attorney by National Trial Lawyers. From 2018-2021, he was named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers.

For a no-cost consultation of your medical malpractice claim, call (617) 391-9001 or fill out a contact form today.

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