Misdiagnosis of disease is a major problem for the Arizona medical community, and it is one that continues to be serious. A misdiagnosis is generally considered a medical diagnosis that subsequent testing or findings have conclusively determined was in error, missed or delayed. Misdiagnosis may lead to death, and is often a contributing factor in medical malpractice suits.
According to an article aggregating the results of several studies on misdiagnosis statistics, a 2008 study of autopsies at three labs from 1999 to 2006 found that there was a serious discrepancy regarding the cause of death in 17.2 percent of cases. The study suggested that pulmonary embolisms were the most frequently missed diagnosis. Another study of autopsies performed at ten-year intervals between 1972 and 1992 discovered that the rate of misdiagnosis dropped by 50 percent over 20 years. Much of the decrease was found to be due to improved means of detecting cardiovascular disease while misdiagnosis of infections and cancers remained a serious problem.