According to some estimates, there are approximately 40,000 to 80,000 deaths every year in hospitals across the United States that occur due to an initial misdiagnosis of a patient’s medical condition. Furthermore, approximately 5% of all autopsies examined revealed that the actual cause of death was due to a condition originally missed by the doctor. Obviously, a misdiagnosis of a medical condition can be a serious threat to one’s health, even one’s life.
So, how does it happen? How does one get misdiagnosed? The culprit, according to an author and professor of medicine at Harvard University, is the “18 Second Rule”. That is the average time it takes for a busy doctor to interrupt a patient reciting his or her symptoms, because they think they have the answer by then. About 80 percent of the time he or she probably does have it right, but how do you avoid being in the 20 percent? How do you avoid becoming another statistic? The answer, of course, is to urge your doctor to listen to all of your symptoms, and to makes sure that he or she hears your entire story, before jumping to a diagnosis.
In order to do that, make certain that you do tell your whole story to the doctor. Ask your doctor these three questions: “is there anything in my history that doesn’t fit with your diagnosis”, “What else might it be”, and “could it be more than one health problem”? If any lab tests reveal surprising, unusual or unexpected results, verify them. There is a 3 to 5 percent error rate for lab tests due to various factors.
Doctor-patient rapport is very important as well. The doctor should always make the patient feel cared for and ask only open ended questions that allow the patient to give full details. If the doctor does not appear to be taking you seriously due to your own unique personality quirks, acknowledge them but insist that your symptoms are real, and not a product of your imagination or over-reaction. Finally, allow for some uncertainty. If your doctor is hesitant to make a diagnosis, do not push him to make a possibly wrong one. Instead, let him or her decide whether or not to run more tests, or to refer you to a specialist for a diagnosis.
The misdiagnosis of a medical condition can be devastating to the patient, and lead the patient down a path of unnecessary or detrimental medical treatment, where the chances for injury or death are greater. You can increase your chances of avoiding such a catastrophe by being proactive with your doctor, and when it comes to your symptoms, insisting on being heard fully during an examination.
If you, or someone you care about, have been the victim of a medical malpractice misdiagnosis, then you need lawyers that know the best way to prove such negligence and to seek compensation for your injuries, like the lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. Many millions of dollars have been collected for our clients. Call us today at (800) 996-4824 to speak to an attorney about your case in an absolutely free, no obligation, confidential, consultation. With locations in Arlington Heights, Chicago and elsewhere, we are ready and able to help you today.