Ophthalmologists and optometrists in Iowa have little trouble recognizing cataracts and glaucoma in patients, but other eye disorders present them with diagnostic challenges. A study of acute optic neuritis by university researchers found that eye care professionals over diagnosed people with the condition at high rates.
Among the 122 patients within the study, 73 of them did not have the optic neuritis that their original physicians had determined to be the cause of their symptoms. This amounted to a misdiagnosis of the condition in 59.8 percent of the people within the study. Researchers concluded that the most common source of these diagnostic errors was reliance on a single piece of evidence in the patient's medical history. Clinicians also contributed to mistakes when they did not take time to consider alternative diagnoses.
According to the study, even when eye care providers invested time in exploring alternative diagnoses, mistakes remained commonplace. Misinterpretations of physical exams occurred in 21 percent of the cases, and 15 percent of cases showed that clinicians misinterpreted diagnostic test results. The authors of the study warned that diagnosing people with the wrong condition could cause patients to pay for ineffective treatments and lose time that could have been used to treat their actual problem.
Although many medical providers strive to deliver appropriate care, in some cases medical professional negligence could be the source of a person's worsened condition. Someone who had to undergo unnecessary treatments or suffered from other mistakes like anesthesia errors or wrong-site surgery could discuss filing a malpractice lawsuit with an attorney. Because medical cases require the victim to meet high standards of proof, an attorney could gain testimony from an independent medical professional to build a case. Damages sought could include compensation for medical bills and lost income due to illness or injury.