Experts: Misdiagnosis begins with doctors who don’t listen

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Jan 23, 2013 in Doctor Errors

We recently read an article by two emergency room physicians who wrote that tens of thousands of patients die each year because of medical errors , often due to misdiagnosis. The pair wrote that the first step to misdiagnosis and error is frequently a doctor who isn't listening carefully to the patient.

Here in West Virginia, we see not only health care costs continuing to spiral upwards, but also an increase in the number of medical tests demanded by doctors. What puzzles patients and professionals alike: how can we be spending more and doing more testing, and still seeing up to 100,000 U.S. patients per year dying as a result of medical mistakes?

The doctors who wrote the article for CNN say patients' illnesses are being misdiagnosed or going undiagnosed because doctors are too reliant on these tests, many of which are unnecessary.

They urge patients to take control of their health control by speaking up when they meet with their doctors, making sure that the physician clearly hears the story of the symptoms and illness. In that way, the doctor is more likely to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe beneficial treatments.

The doctors who wrote the article urge patients to prepare "a succinct, effective story" of their illness.

The ER doctors urge patients to rehearse the story before meeting the doctor so that they get the important facts correct, make them clear and have them in proper order.

Afterwards, if a diagnosis doesn't make sense to you, ask questions of your doctor until he or she explains it to your satisfaction.

Ask, too, for alternative explanations of why you have your particular symptoms. In that way, you both explore other possible explanations of what might be going wrong inside you.

This level of involvement requires an active, participatory patient and a doctor who listens carefully and crafts a diagnosis from patient information as well as test results.

For any patient who has been injured as a result of misdiagnosis, speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about the legal options available for compensation for medical bills, loss of wages and other damages.

Source: CNN, "Opinion: When doctors don't listen," Dr. Leana Wen and Dr. Joshua Kosowsky, Jan. 16, 2013

  • Our Charleston law firm represents people across the state of West Virginia harmed by medical malpractice.

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