If you need immediate medical care, you go to the emergency room. And while you will most likely not see your regular doctor there, you will be seen by a team of highly training doctors and nurses. You should be able to trust the care you are receiving, or at least you would hope so.
Due to the busy nature of an emergency room, and the fast pace at which doctors and nurses have to treat patients, there is a risk of receiving medical care that is not up to standard. In some cases, this could even result in receiving a misdiagnosis.
Common misdiagnosed conditions in the ER
The wrong diagnosis can cause serious medical issues, physical pain and suffering, and even additional medical bills. In the emergency room, some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions include the following:
- Pulmonary embolism, a condition characterized by shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain and other symptoms
- Heart attacks in women, sometimes characterized by symptoms confused with other medical conditions
- Abdominal pain, which could indicate serious medical issues and necessitates testing to determine source of the pain
These are a few of the issues and conditions that doctors sometimes misdiagnose due to lack of sufficient testing or misinterpreted test results. One of the most common reasons for a misdiagnosed medical condition in the emergency room is that of a misread x-ray.
Understanding the true nature of misdiagnosis
Receiving the wrong diagnosis puts a stop to proper treatment. For example, heart attacks tend to look different in women than in men. One sign for a woman is indigestion or unusual fatigue. Not necessarily the chest pain and pain down the left arm like men experience. If a doctor or nurse does not recognize this though, a woman showing signs of a heart attack could be sent home with some antacids for indigestion.
In a case like this, now this woman is in grave danger, thinking she needs to treat only indigestion.
Other complications can also arise when treatments — sometimes invasive — are prescribed for a medical condition that does not exist.
Understand these risks when going to the emergency room. Always feel empowered to speak up if you feel like something is not right and there is nothing wrong with requesting a second opinion.