Misdiagnosis and erroneous assessments of medical conditions are far more common than most people would like to believe.
Oftentimes, such errors can have serious and even fatal consequences for patients, as a result of delayed and inappropriate treatments. The sheer scale of this issue remains largely hidden from the general populace, and is often considered a painful reality of the medical industry.
The instances and magnitude of such errors depend on several factors, including the complexity of the diagnosis and medical sub-specialty, experience of the practitioner, along with the availability of essential resources, among other things.
In this article, we cover some uncomfortable truths regarding medical misdiagnosis, and what patients need to be aware of, and can do about it when undergoing tests and scans.
According to recent studies, diagnostic errors are responsible for as many as 10% of patient deathsin the United States. This makes it the third leading cause of deaths, behind only heart disease and cancer. Beyond this, as much as 1 in 5 medical diagnosesare either incorrect or incomplete, with the potential to cause harm, or prove fatal to patients. These are absolutely staggering figures, something that is enough to leave us second-guessing everything that doctors and healthcare practitioners say. There are a lot of contributing factors that have led to such dismal figures, and they mostly pertain to the culture in the medical field that emphasizes speed, volume, and profitsover quality of care.
While the United States does have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, it has since given way to substantial administrative bloat, with the ratio between doctors to healthcare workers now at 1:16, up from 1:10 a few decades ago.
Given how widespread such cases have become, there are a few steps that patients can take themselves to ensure their rights are protected.
It is often seen that patients become mere spectators when it comes to treatments, procedures, and diagnostics even when it pertains to their personal healthcare.
In order to keep medical practitioners on their toes, patients should take an active part in the process. This includes researching online, asking questions, expressing concerns, and more.
Oftentimes it is the patients themselves who mislead and end up being misdiagnosed by providing inaccurate and incomplete information.While most experienced doctors know how to get things out of their patients, the onus still lies on the latter to explain their symptoms, medical history, and other concerns to the best of their ability.
When dealing with a complex issue or a rare condition where a quick, accurate diagnosis is key, make sure to seek a referral to a specialist from your GP or family doctor.
Specialists with decades of experience in a particular sub-field would have worked with similar such cases day in and out, and can accurately express their professional opinion, often with limited information, and few errors.
No matter how reliable or experienced a medical practitioner is, always make sure to seek a second opinion. This is because even the best doctors are only human, and are prone to mistakes.
By seeking an unbiased second opinion, even if it costs more money, you can be certain that the diagnosis is accurate, and treatment prescribed will yield the desired results.
Even after taking all of the measures discussed above, it is still very much possible to become a victim of medical misdiagnosis.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for victims in this regard, and the first step is to get in touch with medical malpractice lawyers, who can stand by your side and fight for your rights.
Despite the monumental advances in medical care over the decades, instances of malpractice and misdiagnosis have only continued to increase. Unfortunately, the only thing patients can do is to stay on guard and play an active role in their healthcare.