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Missed diagnoses continue to plague the health care system

When Massachusetts residents visit the doctor's office with concerning symptoms, they trust that their physician will do whatever is necessary to provide an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, medical professionals don't always take necessary precautions to provide an adequate level of attention and care. This idea is suggested in reports that point out 39 percent of successful medical malpractice cases result from the failure to diagnose a medical condition.

In addition to a lack of caution contributing to medical errors, many doctors and medical staff are overworked by their employers. Fatigue can cause physicians to miss critical details in a person's medical history or current condition. Whatever the cause of a misdiagnosis, pain and suffering can result. Failing to diagnose a serious condition in a timely manner can severely limit treatment options.

Of course, doctors and medical institutions carry significant responsibility for providing high-quality health care, but patients can also take some steps to limit the risk of misdiagnosis. Some potential precautions, suggested by a pair of medical professionals, include:

  • Giving complete, accurate personal and family medical history
  • Communicating thoroughly by asking questions and sharing medical information if you see multiple doctors
  • Preparing for medical appointments, even if it means preparing a list of questions or symptoms
  • Seeking another opinion when a diagnosis is given

Certainly, these are seemingly simple measures to take, but patients shouldn't have to take on the burden of making sure their doctors are making the right moves. After all, individuals seek out doctors for their professional opinions. As such, it's important for patients to understand their rights in the event they are harmed by a misdiagnosis.

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Tips for helping your doctors avoid misdiagnosis: Drs. Oz and Roizen," June 4, 2013

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