As much as we would like to think otherwise, diagnostic errors are common in Ohio and the rest of the United States. When these errors involve the failure to diagnose a heart attack, cancer, or other life-threatening conditions, the results can be catastrophic. As Dr. Mehmet Oz recently wrote in an article, doctors and their staff work hard to give patients the correct diagnosis and treatment every day, but this doesn’t always happen.
In fact, 39 percent of malpractice payments are for non-diagnosis, mis-diagnosis or other diagnostic errors, a recent study concluded. Additionally, diagnostic errors are known as the most frequent, dangerous and expensive type of errors in the medical field. While there is no way to protect yourself 100 percent from diagnostic errors, Dr. Oz wrote that there are several things patients can do in effort to stay safe:
- Make sure to communicate clearly with health care providers, including fully explaining all symptoms as well as family history of medical conditions.
- After being diagnosed with a condition, ask the doctor how he came to this conclusion and what other potential diagnoses were ruled out.
- Bring a list of questions to your medical appointment in case your mind goes blank while you have the doctor’s full attention.
- Don’t be afraid to call in for lab results instead of waiting for the doctor’s office to call you.
- Consider getting a second opinion, which is something that is encouraged by doctors themselves.
These are all great tips for avoiding diagnostic errors. If it is too late and you or someone you love has already been harmed by a diagnostic error, you may be entitled to compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Tips for helping your doctors avoid misdiagnosis: Drs. Oz and Roizen,” June 4, 2013