Misdiagnoses: The Dangers and What You Can Do About Them

A common form of medical malpractice is the failure to diagnose. A patient comes in, a doctor sees him or her, the doctor makes a diagnosis, and that diagnosis is either wrong or too limited in scope, resulting in later harm to the patient. Moreover, the error doesn’t even have to be made by a doctor – other healthcare professionals too may be liable for failing to see and diagnose symptoms of any given illness or condition.

The prevalence of misdiagnoses is something that even the medical community is prepared to accept. A study published in 2005 by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that doctors are wrong 10 to 15 percent of the time. This may be because doctors are spending less time with patients today than they ever have; reports indicate that the average patient-doctor interaction lasts just seven minutes. These reports do not only include private, for-profit clinic doctors, either. Whether they are private doctors maximizing appointments in order to make more money or hospital doctors facing emergency rooms crowded with urgent care patients, doctors of all kinds seem to be zipping in and out of examination rooms at unprecedented rates. With doctors more and more seeing patients as quickly as possible, it comes as little surprise that important details are often overlooked.

Here are a few things you can do if you fear you have a condition which has been misdiagnosed:

1. Get a second opinion.
Doctors are human, and they make mistakes. What is worse is that they can suffer from confirmation bias – the tendency to form a belief and then see only information which confirms that belief, no matter how much information may be present disproving the belief. If your symptoms persist after you’ve followed the doctor’s orders, it may be time to seek a second opinion.

2. Be your own doctor.
Humans have never lived in an age where information was more available. Take down a list of your symptoms, and see what Google has to say about your condition. The Internet is full of trustworthy sites and fellow patients who can help you get a better idea of the illness that is bothering you. Of course, there are sources out there that are non-authoritative, to say the least, but if you find the same information again and again from different sources, it may be worth asking a doctor about. As a patient, doing your own research and informing yourself will help you maximize the time you spend with the doctor.

3. Find a lawyer
Misdiagnoses can result in severe harm to patients because they delay the time in which an actual health problem is addressed. Strokes, heart attacks, and other serious health emergencies are some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions. The longer these conditions go without an accurate diagnosis, the longer patients must wait until they can be correctly treated, which can result in severe harm that would otherwise be totally avoidable.

Fortunately, legal recourse is available for patients who have suffered harm as a result of a doctor’s error. If you feel that you or a loved one has suffered damage as a result of a misdiagnosis or a doctor’s failure to diagnose a condition, you may have a claim and you should seek the advice of an experience medical malpractice attorney. The attorneys at Levin & Perconti are here for you – please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at any time.

See Related Posts:

Medical Reconciliation and Health Care Accountability

Medical Malpractice: Failing to Recognize Growth of Tumor

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