Misdiagnosis and Prescription Drug Overdose

Doctors and physicians have a great deal of training in human physiology, the pathology of diseases and the pharmacology of medicine. Earning an medical degree requires years of schooling and an enormous amount of hard work. After graduation doctors must gain real world experience in residency while working alongside more experienced doctors. By the time a doctor earns his or her degree and has gone through residency, he or she should be well qualified to treat patients and prescribe drugs.

The Challenges of Prescribing Drugs to Patients

Managing a patient’s health and even life is an enormous responsibility. Doctors must possess an encyclopedic knowledge of the myriad disorders that can occur in the human body and the safe and effective ways to treat these issues. Doctors are qualified to prescribe powerful medications that have potentially disastrous consequences and side effects if used incorrectly. There are also a nearly infinite number of possible drug interactions that can occur with multiple drug use.

Despite all their training, high ethical standards and the best of intentions, doctors are only human and can make mistakes. Many common symptoms occur in a multitude of diseases and disorders, and diagnosis is not an exact mathematical science. In some cases diagnosis comes down to speculation and an educated guess. This is why doctors routinely consult with one another on difficult cases and may refer a patient to a specialist.

Possible Consequences of Misdiagnosis

In rare cases a doctor may make an incorrect diagnosis or the wrong choice of medication. Side effects of drugs vary considerably as do drug interactions, so in the case of misdiagnosis hopefully the consequences are minor such as developing a rash or simply annoying or inconvenient symptoms. However misdiagnosis can lead to serious consequences such as drug overdose or a serious drug interaction. A patient may have an unknown condition or sensitivity to a certain drug which both the doctor and patient are unaware of, until a reaction occurs.

Be completely honest with your doctor about your medical history, any medical conditions you may have and any drugs you are on including illicit or illegal drugs. Doctor-patient privilege exists so that patients can feel absolutely safe and comfortable disclosing everything to their physicians. Your doctor is concerned with your health and is not a law enforcement officer. He or she will not turn you in for smoking marijuana, shooting heroin or snorting cocaine. However he or she will be concerned about these habits and will probably recommend that you seek treatment. Your doctor needs to know about any drugs you are on so that he or she can avoid prescribing a medication that may cause an overdose or fatal interaction.

Questions about Prescription Drug Overdose?

Prescription drug overdose due to misdiagnosis of a medical condition is rare but is nonetheless a very real danger. The consequences are potentially disastrous, so misdiagnosis should not be ignored. Call our toll-free helpline to learn how drug misuse, abuse or addiction can put you at greater risk for an overdose. We can help you assess your current prescription and other drug use and can connect you with the best resources for lasting solutions.