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Patients can reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis

Many Illinois residents may have heard about the risks of medical misdiagnoses. What many people do not realize is that determining what is wrong with a person is more difficult than most know. This is because doctors often do not get to know their patients' full medical history or because they do not get to spend a large amount of time with their patients.

However, there are some steps that can be taken by the patients themselves to reduce the risk of a medical misdiagnosis. For example, it is recommended that patients come to their appointments prepared. This means making a timeline of what symptoms that have and when they started. They should also have a list of any medications that they take or have taken in the past. Patients should also be prepared with a list of questions that are diagnosis-oriented. For example, questions should include what the issue might be and what other possible conditions cause the symptoms that the patient is exhibiting.

It is also recommended that patients pay attention to the results of any tests that are conducted and ask questions if something does not make sense. Further, the patient should be following their own progress and return to the same doctor if they see no improvement. Finally, if something does not feel right, the patient should be prepared to seek a second opinion, even if the doctor insists that it is not needed.

A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis could result in severe injury or even death, even if the patient attempts to take charge of their diagnosis. Someone who is given a misdiagnosis and sustains financial injury as a result may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the health care practitioner.

Source: The Washington Post, "Even good doctors make mistakes, but you can improve the odds of a correct diagnosis", May 27, 2014

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A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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