The leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits are misdiagnosis. A missed diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis can be tragic. Therefore, it is essential that you play an active role in your medical care. In her book,”When Doctor’s Don’t Listen; How to Avoid Misdiagnosis and Unnecessary Tests,” Leana Wen, a George Washington University physician, states that your doctor will most likely interrupt you within the first 10 seconds of your conversation.
Ten seconds is not much time to discuss your symptoms or ask questions about your diagnosis, treatment and/or care.
How Common are Misdiagnoses?
A study released in by HealthGrades in 2004 found that “failure to rescue,” or failure to correctly diagnose someone in time for effective treatment, was the most common safety incident. These incidents average 155 incidences per 1000 hospitalized patients. In a 1997 survey by the National Patient Safety Foundation, it was found that among people reporting a medical mistake 40 percent reported a diagnostic or treatment error. However, some of the latest and most troubling research, comes from the a May 2013 article from the National Center for Policy Analysis, which reported that an estimated 10 to 20 percent of medical cases are misdiagnosed. Their analysis found fatal diagnostic errors accounted for 40,500 deaths each year — equal to the number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S.
It is important to remember that as a patient, you are a consumer in the health industry. As with any industry, it is your responsibility and right to demand proper service and treatment. Many diagnostic errors are blamed on poor communication and/or a lack of information. It is imperative that your doctor understands why you are there and that all of your questions and concerns are satisfactorily answered and addressed.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Dr. Wen gives the following tips:
Prepare your case in advance. Before you arrive at the doctor’s office, prepare yourself. Write down all of your symptoms and include details about when they began, if they have worsened or become better, and any changes in your life that may have affected your health. Plan what you are going to say.
Tell your story concisely. Within that crucial first 10 seconds (before your doctor interrupts you) state your main concern, when you noticed it, and how it affects your life.
Expand on your answers. Your doctor may ask a yes or no question, but answer fully with all necessary details whenever possible.
Ask your own questions. Don’t only answer questions. Ask your doctor what they think, how your symptoms may be related or what diagnostic options they are weighing.
Use simple, not complex language. Clear communication is crucial here. Don’t use terms you heard on television or read as you were trying to diagnose yourself online. Talk to your doctor as if you were talking to a friend. Leave as little room for confusion as possible.
Write down your doctor’s recommendations, diagnosis and suggestions. You may forget some of the details addressed as soon as you walk out the door.
Even those who do everything correctly may end up becoming the victim of a misdiagnosis. If you believe you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed and suffered unduly because of it, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. The medical malpractice lawyers at Clekis Law Firm can help you thoroughly review you case and assist you in taking the steps necessary to receive compensation.