In this day in age, it may come as a surprise to learn that medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States according to a recent study conducted by the well-known Journal of the American Medical Association (see Forbes.com for the full article).
However, what is more shocking is CBS News' report that 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year. A misdiagnosis by your health care provider is not only common, but it could cost you your health (or your life). In fact, diagnostic errors are the leading cause for malpractice lawsuits. The numbers on medical misdiagnoses are chilling.
- Overall, 10-15% of medical diagnoses are wrong.
- 10-30% of breast cancers are missed on mammography.
- The median delay in diagnosing an asthma patient is 3 years.
- 12-51% of patients that go to the ER with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the area of the brain) are misdiagnosed.
Common conditions that are frequently misdiagnosed are:
- Heart Attack
- Pulmonary Embolism
What does all of this mean for patient safety? BMJ, an international health journal on healthcare improvement, gives sound advice, “In God we trust, all others bring data”. Patients should not be so trusting with a medical diagnosis without questions, confirmation, and more questions. The following are helpful tips that may help prevent a medical misdiagnosis:
- Document your symptoms by keeping a diary with a timeline.
- Tell your doctor everything, even the seemingly minor details.
- Ask questions and be persistent about follow-up (this includes medications and/or abnormal test results, and if something does not seem right, don't stop asking questions).
- If there is any doubt, get a second opinion.
For more information on patient safety, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at http://www.ahrq.gov/.
If you believe that you are victim of a medical misdiagnosis, contact Gilman & Bedigian, LLC at 410-560-4999 for a free legal consultation.
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