When we’re feeling under the weather, we rely on doctors to identify our symptoms and recommend treatment to help us get better. However, what happens when a doctor diagnoses you with the wrong illness? In many cases of medical error, your health could be put at serious risk. What are the dangers of misdiagnosis and how can you prevent this unfortunate incident from happening to you?

The Facts About Misdiagnosis

doctor writing prescription According to research from the Institute of Medicine, 12 million diagnostic errors are made in outpatient settings in the US each year. To put this number into perspective, that’s about one in every 20 doctor visits. The Journal of Patient Safety reports that medical errors can result in 210,000 to 440,000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of death in the country behind heart disease and cancer.

Why Does Misdiagnosis Occur?

The prevalence of medical errors is rather surprising, considering today’s technology and the advanced knowledge of doctors. However, there are several factors that could contribute to the frequency of misdiagnosis, including under-staffing at hospitals, overlooking symptoms and failing to administer certain medical tests. Although the root cause cannot be pinpointed, there are steps we can take as individuals to prevent this from happening to us.

Avoiding a Misdiagnosis

Arguably, misdiagnosis is somewhat out of the hands of patients. Yet, the following four tips can help your doctor make a more informed diagnosis of your illness:

1. Know Your Symptoms

Keep track of all symptoms, so you can accurately report them to your doctor. Try keeping a journal of when you experience each symptom and what the pain feels like.

2. Disclose Your Family History

If you’re no longer seeing the family general practitioner, chances are that the doctor is not aware of all the diseases that run in your family. Even if you think it’s unrelated to your symptoms, share everything!

3. Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to question your doctor. If you’re unsatisfied with a diagnosis, ask what else the symptoms could indicate and the different courses of treatment available.

4. Get Multiple Opinions

Considering medical misdiagnosis is a leading cause of death, it’s acceptable to get a second, third and fourth opinion! Especially for serious diagnoses like cancer, you want to be certain it’s confirmed before starting chemotherapy you do not need.

A medical misdiagnosis can delay or lead to the wrong treatment. At Trantolo & Trantolo, we believe that under their oath, doctors should be held responsible for malpractice. If you believe you have a claim related to medical error, contact our medical malpractice lawyers today for the compensation you deserve.