How Patients Can Help Prevent Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of medical malpractice or negligence. Misdiagnosis is when the physician incorrectly or inaccurately reaches a conclusion about the cause of the patient’s symptoms. In hospitals, about 1 of every 20 deaths is caused by misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis can be the result of lack of communication among doctors and nurses, a failure to order or follow up on diagnostic studies or laboratory results, and inaccurate or incomplete information from patients.
How can a patient prevent misdiagnosis? Primarily by speaking up and asking questions. Be sure you tell your doctor everything. You can’t expect a doctor to reach the right conclusion without all the facts. Ask your doctor what your diagnosis is. Ask why he believes this diagnosis. Ask if there are other possible diagnoses and why these were excluded. Be sure you follow up on your own diagnostic studies and laboratory studies ordered by your doctors. Know what the results were, and if they were normal or abnormal. If abnormal, what is your doctor doing about it? If something seems off, ask for repeat studies.
In short, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. It’s your body and it’s your health.