Diagnosing a medical condition isn't an easy task, regardless of how much experience a health care provider might have, but most people count on their doctor's ability to do just that. However, getting a diagnosis wrong is far from rare. According to an article from U.S. News, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine research study estimated that death and/or permanent damage happens nearly 160,000 times each year because of misdiagnosis. Some estimates say that patients may receive the wrong diagnosis as much as 30% of the time, and while in some cases it makes no substantial difference, in others it may be the difference between life and death.
A Patient's Role in Medical Care
Getting the right diagnosis is something that is most likely to happen if the patient and doctor work together in order to achieve that goal. This means that patients need to take an active role in their medical care, and health care providers need to take them seriously when they do. Here are some steps patients can take in order to contribute to their own health care and diagnosis process:
- Trust Your Instincts - If a diagnosis or course of treatment feels wrong, it may be a sign to look deeper.
- Ask Questions, and for a second opinion - If your health care provider is not able to lay your concerns to rest via an explanation, ask to be referred to a specialist or see another doctor to confirm your diagnosis
- Do Research - Medical information sites have a lot of information, and can help you bring ideas and understanding to the table through the diagnostic process. Share the information you find, and explain why you think it should be considered, but remember to leave actual medical conclusions to the professionals.
- Follow doctor's advice - It is more difficult to claim fault in a diagnosis and treatment plan if you haven't given it a chance. If you can say you followed instructions, it will help you build a stronger case if malpractice turns out to be an issue.
- Take Notes - Whether you are experiencing side effects to a medication, or you are being mistreated or dismissed by medical staff, or you're making note of which pieces of medical advice work or don't work, keeping a log of your experience with medical providers you encounter will help you better understand your condition, and may help fuel a lawsuit, if necessary.
Because making the correct diagnosis is a challenge when a doctor gets it wrong malpractice is not an automatic assumption. You have to prove that you were given substandard care, or that your practitioner was medically negligent based on the care you would have received from someone else. Misreading medical tests, or not testing for ailments that you are at risk for are both cases that might warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit. Even with the best cases, however, you are likely to face an uphill battle. Having a good attorney can make a big difference.
If you believe you have experienced unnecessary expense, pain, suffering, or deterioration of your overall health because you were misdiagnosed due to negligence, it's possible that you may be able to get compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Call the Rick Hall Law Firm in Lexington, South Carolina to arrange a consultation.