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Most Common Medical Misdiagnoses in New York

Most Common Medical Misdiagnoses in New York

Misdiagnosis has reached almost epidemic proportions in the United States. According to a 2023 John Hopkins study, the error rate for diagnoses in the U.S. is roughly 11%, resulting in almost 800,000 people dying or being permanently disabled. That is a shockingly high number for a field that requires more training than almost any other. 

The consequences of a misdiagnosis can range from a slight delay in patient recovery to the death of the patient (and even potentially others in some circumstances). The following are some of the most common medical misdiagnoses in New York. 

Heart Attacks or Strokes 

Both of these life-threatening events are the result of vascular issues that cause either the heart or the brain to not receive enough oxygen through the bloodstream.  

The warning signs for a heart attack include symptoms like arm and abdomen pain. Unfortunately, these symptoms are also associated with much less serious conditions, like angina or even a pulled muscle. The similarities in these signs may result in a misdiagnosis of a lesser ailment. 

Strokes present similar difficulties. Some of the more common symptoms are headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision. These symptoms can also signify conditions like seizures or migraines, which are much less serious. 


Detecting cancer early is one of the most important factors in recovery. Unfortunately, cancer is a commonly misdiagnosed disease. The reason it is misdiagnosed is almost identical to why heart attacks and strokes are misdiagnosed. Many forms of cancer have similar symptoms to less serious conditions, especially in the early stages. 

Thus, skin cancer may be misdiagnosed as a noncancerous cyst, or lung cancer could be diagnosed as bronchitis. While these misdiagnoses may be corrected on a second visit to the doctor, that could mean months when the cancer isn’t being treated. 


This is an unusual case. It isn’t uncommon for diabetes to be misdiagnosed as a different type of diabetes. This may not seem so bad, except that there is a significant difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes can be treated primarily with diet and exercise. You may require some occasional insulin (usually only in emergencies) or mild medication, but this type of diabetes is relatively benign.  

Type 1 diabetes, however, is much more serious. It can only be treated with regular doses of insulin. Without the proper treatment, this type of diabetes can result in consequences like lost limbs or death. Unfortunately, when diabetes is misdiagnosed, type 1 is often diagnosed as type 2, delaying life-saving medication. 

Viral Infections and Bacterial Infections 

Bronchitis is a viral infection. If you don’t receive antiviral medication, the condition will continue to get worse. Conversely, pneumonia is a bacterial infection, which requires anti-bacterial medication. What happens if you get the wrong medication? The condition will not respond to the treatment. 

This is why a misdiagnosis of a viral infection or a bacterial infection can be so serious. It is less problematic if your doctor mistakenly diagnoses you with an infection of the same type. It won’t respond as quickly to the treatment, but it should still respond. But when that diagnosis is of the wrong type, your ailment will worsen, potentially becoming life-threatening. 


Another common misdiagnosis involves depression. While all doctors are trained in mental illnesses, unless they specialize in psychiatry, they aren’t likely to be good at identifying them. Depression, in particular, has symptoms that can be easily mistaken for a physical ailment. 

Depression often results in symptoms like: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight gain or loss 
  • Unexplained pain 

These symptoms can be easily assigned to physical ailments like anemia, vitamin deficiency, or diabetes. Unfortunately, the treatments for these conditions will do nothing for depression and may even worsen it. 

What to Do if You Are Misdiagnosed 

The biggest drawback of misdiagnosis is that it delays treatment. A condition that might be relatively minor can worsen significantly while you are receiving treatment for some other condition. In the worst-case scenario, this can put you at death’s door. 

If you are misdiagnosed, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately. They will help you find the right doctors to treat your condition and explore options for compensation for the harm you suffered. 

Get Help From an Experienced New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer 

The medical malpractice lawyers at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos understand a misdiagnosis can impact your life. We fight to get justice for victims like you. 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a New York medical malpractice attorney.