We rely on the expertise of doctors to help us heal. From identifying our ailments to finding the medication or procedure that helps us move toward recovery, their insights are necessary in almost every aspect of treatment. When that expertise fails, though, misdiagnosis does not only prevent us from getting the best care possible. It can also do real harm. How common is misdiagnosis?

Diagnosis errors are more common than you may think.

Many studies have addressed misdiagnosis, and their results are alarming. One study by the Mayo Clinic found that more than 20% of patients referred to another doctor were diagnosed incorrectly by their primary care provider. This study also indicated that a second opinion was essential for refining or redefining diagnoses, and only about one-tenth of patients received confirmation of their initial diagnosis.

Misdiagnosis can also be catastrophic to those who experience it. Research from Johns Hopkins estimates that more than 100,000 patients per year in America become disabled or experience fatal complications from misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. In particular, misdiagnosis of three conditions—cancers, vascular events and infections—account for the majority of serious injuries.

Mayo Clinic indicates that incorrect diagnoses could be the result of overconfidence on the part of care providers and lack of referrals to a specialist who may be able to tell patients more about their condition.

If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of misdiagnosis, speak to an attorney today. They can help you explore your options and take legal action against negligent healthcare providers.