What should Tennessee residents know about misdiagnosis?

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Many people who visit the doctor or have to make a trip to the emergency room often have a number of concerns and questions on their minds. What is wrong? Is this condition serious? Will I be able to recover? Often times, doctors and nurses are able to address these concerns accurately and in a timely manner. However, there are situations in which a mistake is made or something is overlooked and a person can end up getting even sicker.

A misdiagnosis can be very serious and it is just one example of medical malpractice. A patient can suffer severe complications when a medical condition is left untreated or improperly treated. One Tennessee couple recently experienced the devastation of a misdiagnosis after doctors failed to properly diagnose the husband.

The woman explained the near-tragic incident when she submitted a question to two well-known doctors for advice. She stated that her husband was experiencing shortness of breath and they went to the hospital. The doctors told them that the shortness of breath was being caused by the man’s weight and sent the couple home. Just four hours later, the husband suffered an asthma attack and nearly died.

According to the doctors responding to the woman’s letter, this situation is not a rare occurrence. Diagnostic errors are among the most common mistakes that are made in hospitals, according to reports. They identify incomplete medical records, overworked doctors and insufficient testing capabilities as being factors in many missed, delayed or incorrect misdiagnoses.

While it can be difficult for an average person to determine whether or not a doctor has made an error in a diagnosis, there are some steps that people can take in order to avoid the complications of these errors. Patients can be proactive with their care and ask questions about a diagnosis, including what conditions a doctor has ruled out and what else it could be. Giving full and accurate information to the doctor can also be very helpful. Finally, it is definitely appropriate to seek a second opinion.

A misdiagnosis can be life-threatening and there may only be so much that a patient can do to prevent these mistakes. In many cases, however, patients can take legal action against a doctor who has been negligent in the diagnostic process. While a claim cannot undo a misdiagnosis, it can compensate victims and their families for the damage.

Source: Idaho Statesman, “Drs. Oz & Roizen’s Tip of the Day: Protect yourself from misdiagnosis,” Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehment Oz, M.D., May 25, 2013