Understanding and preventing misdiagnoses

There's No Substitute for Experience

Tennessee residents may be surprised to learn that a misdiagnosis is the most common medical mistake made by American doctors. Despite increased hospital technology and diagnostic measures such as sonograms, lab tests and MRIs, studies show that 15 percent of health issues are initially misdiagnosed.

According to one study from 2013, mistakes occurred the most when trying to identify congestive heart failure, cancer, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and acute renal failure. Misdiagnoses reportedly happen twice as much at doctor's offices. However, they are often more serious at hospitals, where patients are more likely to face major health issues.

A report led by one physician found that about 160,000 patients who are hospitalized suffer permanent injury or die annually because of medical errors. To help prevent some of these types of mistakes, the same doctor advises patients to remember three tips. First,they should have a prepared list of symptoms and a timeline to assist a doctor. Next, they should ask plenty of questions, which could help avoid a misdiagnosis. Finally, patients should know what to expect with any diagnosis and follow up if a course of action is not going according to plan.

Diagnosing a patient can be complicated as there are many illness and conditions that may match a person's symptoms. In addition, certain illnesses may present symptoms that vary from patient to patient. While physicians do their best when treating patients, preventable errors sometimes occur that can cause greater suffering or even a fatal reaction. If a misdiagnosis or another medical mistake leads to a patient's condition worsening, the victim may want to obtain the advice of a medical malpractice attorney.

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