Based on recent reports, more medical malpractice claims involve diagnosis errors than any other category. Although doctors should know that mistaken or delayed diagnoses can have potentially severe and life-changing consequences for patients, around 39 percent of successful claims involve exactly these kinds of mistakes.
Two famous medical experts, Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, offered five tips for patients to help them avoid falling victim to a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose a medical problem. The fact that medical experts of this cultural stature undertook to recognize this problem and warn patients of errors within the medical profession is itself a strong indicator that patients need to be aware of diagnosis mistakes.
The experts offer this advice:
1. Follow up on diagnoses by asking questions about the doctor’s decision and possible alternative diagnoses.
2. Do some basic homework in advance and prepare questions to be sure you adequately address your own concerns.
3. Instead of waiting for a laboratory to respond with test results, take a proactive approach and contact them as soon as is reasonable.
4. Keep all caregivers in the loop-this means that it is a good idea to share diagnoses and opinions with your other doctors.
5. Never hesitate to seek a second opinion.
This last point is especially important. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis errors happen too often for patients to ignore the possibility that a doctor has gotten it wrong-two heads are better than one and a second diagnosis can help avoid serious medical malpractice injuries.
Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Tips for helping your doctors avoid misdiagnosis: Drs Oz and Roizen,” Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, June 4, 2013