Every year, approximately 12 million Americans are given an incorrect diagnosis. According to a study published in the journal BJM Quality and Safety, this means that 1 in 20 adult patients may be misdiagnosed. A misdiagnosis could mean that a person’s condition goes untreated, or the person could be given treatment for the wrong condition.
While these numbers are alarming, patients can and should help themselves and their doctors when they believe they are suffering from an illness or disease. By using the following tips, patients can help themselves avoid a misdiagnosis and put themselves on the path to recovery.
Be Clear In Describing Your Symptoms
Many people get nervous when visiting a doctor or specialist. As a result of these nerves, they may forget their symptoms, dismiss or downplay how they are feeling, or give only vague descriptions of generalized pain.
It is important to be clear in describing how you feel. Try and take notes before your appointment about when your symptoms began, what makes them better or worse, or if they seem to be related to any food, medication, or activity.
In addition, it is important to be as specific as possible when describing your symptoms. You should be able to tell the doctor if the pain you are feeling is sharp or dull, throbbing or aching. You should also know when the symptoms started, and if anything can relieve your pain. Being able to tell your doctor about every symptom you have had will help him or her make an accurate diagnosis.
Know Your Family History
Many illnesses and conditions are hereditary or have a genetic component. Conditions like cancer, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and many others can run in families, which makes it vital for patients to be aware of their medical history. Write down this information and keep in it a safe place in case you are ever too sick to fully remember every detail.
Also, do not assume that your doctor will remember your family medical history. Remind your doctor that others in your family may have had similar symptoms connected to their conditions, and ask if your family history may be relevant to your case.
Keep Records of Treatments and Medications
After each appointment or procedure, make a record of the tests which were administered, any diagnoses given or medications prescribed, the results of any tests or procedures, each hospital visit and any referrals to specialists.
Bring this list with you to any appointment with your doctor. In addition, keep an up-to-date list of all medications you are taking as well as their dosages and possible side effects or drug interactions. Know what these medications are for, and consider bringing your medication to your doctor at your appointment.
A record of your past treatments and medications can help your doctor rule out conditions or look for illnesses that prior doctors missed. Records that are transferred between health care providers may not be complete, so it is important to know your own medical history.
Always make sure to ask your doctor questions if you do not understand the reason for a diagnosis, treatment, or test. Know why your doctor is making a certain decision, and get a second opinion if you are unsatisfied with the answers you receive. Never be scared to ask for additional information about your health—your life may depend on it.
If Injured By Misdiagnosis, Contact An Attorney
When a doctor fails to accurately diagnose a condition, the person who is ill may be further injured by a delay in treatment. When this occurs, that doctor or health care provider may be liable for those injuries in medical malpractice lawsuit.
If a doctor’s misdiagnosis resulted in an injury or made your condition worse, you may have the right to seek compensation for the additional harm your doctor caused. At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., our dedicated medical and legal staff will evaluate your injury and your medical case history, and can help you protect your rights. Dr. Bradley I. Kramer is both a medical doctor and an attorney, and has the unique expertise you need on your side to fight back after a doctor’s negligence.
For a free consultation, contact us by calling (310) 289-2600 and speak with an experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney today.