Posted on 07/28/2021

5 Common Conditions That are Misdiagnosed

5 Common Conditions That are Misdiagnosed

Was your medical condition misdiagnosed? Was it diagnosed late? You’re not alone. 

You’re one of the almost 100,000 people who experience permanent disability or have experienced a death in the family as a result of common misdiagnosed conditions or delayed diagnosis every year in the United States. 

Keep reading to find out more about the most common misdiagnosed conditions and what you need to be able to prove to file for medical misdiagnosis malpractice.

What is Medical Misdiagnosis?

Research by Johns Hopkins University found that one out of every ten patients with a “big three” disease category was misdiagnosed. 

Johns Hopkins defines the “big three” disease categories as infections, vascular events, and cancers. 

"(Required)" indicates required fields

Were you injured by medical malpractice or are you reporting for someone else?(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

By entering your contact information, you are providing consent for Grover Lewis Johnson to contact you at the email and number you provided via telephone, mobile device, text SMS/MMS and pre-recorded messages, even if you are registered on a corporate, state, or federal Do Not Call list. You are also acknowledging and agreeing to our terms of service and privacy policy. Consent is not required to use our services.

A study recently published in Diagnosis, the official journal of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, found that “big three” common misdiagnosed conditions account for roughly 3/4 of all misdiagnosis-harm experienced by patients.

Five Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions

There are various conditions that fall into the “big three” category and there are some that are commonly misdiagnosed. 

Let’s look at the five most common misdiagnosed conditions below.


Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) is an often genetic autoimmune disorder found predominantly in women. 

Lupus generally presents in the early stages with symptoms that are often mistaken for widely recognized musculoskeletal conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy. Lupus can be triggered by hormone fluctuations such as menopause or pregnancy, but not always. 

Most people living with the disease report having the two common symptoms of extreme fatigue and joint and muscle pain. However, Lupus can also present a range of additional ailments that help differentiate it from other conditions, including:

  • Anemia
  • Rashes
  • Miscarriages
  • Headaches
  • Fevers
  • Hair loss or thinning hair


Cancer is an unfortunately common disease in our world but it is often misdiagnosed. Cancer Research U.K. anticipates that 50% of the U.S. population will experience some form of cancer at some point in their lives. 

Because of the frequency of cancer misdiagnosis, it’s critical that your doctor has a thorough medical history, including information about any medications you are taking and any symptoms you are experiencing. 

While the symptoms of cancer can vary depending on its location — and some forms of cancer have few, if any, symptoms — it’s always a good idea to see your doctor if you feel unwell or have a family history of cancer. 

Common symptoms of cancers can include:

  • Persistent Cough without cold or flu symptoms
  • Hard, painless lumps
  • Unusual marks on your skin, including moles or discoloration.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cuts or sores that take a long time to heal or never fully heal
  • Blood in urine, stool, or phlegm
  • Pain, aches, or tenderness without an underlying reason or injury

Celiac Disease

Like Lupus, Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. Patients with Celiac disease cannot adequately process gluten in food products; their body views gluten as a threat and takes measures to destroy it, “attacking” the gluten.

Because Celiac is often overlooked and misdiagnosed, those living with the condition can be forced to endure years of discomfort, pain, and malabsorption of nutrients while undergoing unnecessary, intrusive tests in an attempt to identify the source of their suffering. 

Celiac symptoms can include:

  • Bloating after eating
  • Diarrhea or uncommonly loose stools
  • Intestinal gas and flatulence
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Weight loss or inability to gain weight

Heart Attack

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) can feel different from person to person, making it another one of the most common misdiagnosed conditions. 

You might experience severe symptoms, while someone else may only experience a few mild symptoms or none at all. Despite a wide range of potential symptoms, many people report experiencing little more than heartburn or indigestion-type burning sensation.

Other common heart attack symptoms include:

  • Chest pain, pressure or discomfort
  • Feeling light-headed, faint, or weak
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain 
  • Pain (shooting or stabbing) in one or both arms.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing


Strokes are often overlooked, especially among women, people of color and young patients who present with dizziness or headaches as their initial symptoms. 

However, among our list of common misdiagnosed conditions, stroke misdiagnosis is especially dangerous because the failure to diagnose a stroke properly can mean a missed opportunity to provide time-critical treatments. 

Common stroke symptoms can include:

  • Migraines or migraine-like headaches
  • Seizures
  • Weakness, loss of sensation or numbness, usually on one side of the body, e.g., face, arm, or leg
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness, feeling faint, lack of coordination, or loss of balance
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech.

Medical Misdiagnosis Malpractice

Under the law, doctors are not legally responsible for all diagnostic errors.

 However, if patients can meet the following medical malpractice requirements, a medical malpractice lawsuit based on a wrong diagnosis can succeed.

  • You had an existing relationship with the doctor
  • Your doctor acted negligently; in other words, they failed to treat your condition in a reasonably competent manner
  • You experienced harm or damages–including financial–as a direct result of the doctor’s negligence

Was Your Doctor Negligent?

A delayed diagnosis, an incorrect or misdiagnosis is not automatically proof of negligence. Even the most skilled, careful medical professional can still make a diagnostic error. 

However, what makes a diagnostic error an act of malpractice is negligence. Did the doctor act in a medically appropriate manner using generally accepted methods to arrive at the diagnosis? 

To prove medical malpractice based on misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, you must be able to prove that another doctor in a similar hospital environment, with comparable education and specialization and experience, would have made a different decision. 

How To Get Help

If you or a loved one have suffered and you believe medical misdiagnosis is the reason, reach out to the medical malpractice experts at Grover Lewis Johnson. 

Use our no-cost, no-obligation consultation to get an honest opinion on your situation and get answers to some of your most pressing questions. 

If you have experienced injury or harm resulting from medical misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering or damages. 

We want to help you get the compensation you deserve. And because we work on a contingency basis, we don’t get paid until you get your settlement.