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Lake County Medical Malpractice Lawyers

According to a 2014 study published in BMJ Quality & Safety, approximately 12 million American adults receive incorrect diagnoses each year. An incorrect diagnosis can lead to a delayed diagnosis, which can cause the patient to miss treatment for his or her condition at a critical stage, altering his or her prognosis and ultimately reducing his or her quality of life. In cases where diagnosing the patient’s condition at a specific stage is not as critical to his or her treatment, a delayed diagnosis can cause the patient to suffer longer than necessary and prolong his or her recovery time. Incorrect diagnoses can also mean subjecting the patient to inappropriate treatment for his or her condition. At best, receiving improper treatment is a waste of time and money, and at worst, it is harmful to the patient’s health. Incorrect and delayed diagnoses can often be avoided, and when they occur because of a physician’s negligence, the patient can seek compensation for his or her damages through a medical malpractice claim.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions

Certain conditions are misdiagnosed more often than others. In many cases, this is because two or more conditions have similar symptoms and when the doctor is presented with the patient’s medical history or lifestyle data, he or she might jump to a diagnosis without ordering all the necessary testing to be sure of the patient’s condition.

A few examples of conditions that are frequently misdiagnosed include:

  • Heart attacks in women. Women do not display the same symptoms that men display when suffering from heart attacks, which can delay their diagnoses or even cause their doctors to diagnose their symptoms as another condition entirely;
  • Cancer, particularly lymphoma, breast cancer, and sarcomas. Cancer misdiagnosis rates vary by condition, occurring in up to 44 percent of cases of certain cancers;
  • Depression, which can be mistaken as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or bipolar disorder;
  • Lyme disease. Symptoms of Lyme disease include joint pain, joint stiffness, and fatigue. These can be misattributed to many different conditions; and
  • Fibromyalgia. This can be mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It shares symptoms with these conditions like fatigue, anxiety, and joint pain.

Sometimes, incorrect diagnoses happen even when physicians follow the standard of care for their specialty area. In cases like this, malpractice did not occur. In order for an incorrect diagnosis to be an act of malpractice, it must have occurred because the doctor did not take the steps that another doctor reasonably would have taken in the same scenario.

How to Be an Advocate for Your Healthcare

You can reduce your chance of suffering from an incorrect diagnosis by taking steps to act as your own healthcare advocate. If you have a spouse or close friend or relative who can attend doctor appointments with you, bring him or her along to help you by asking the doctor questions and taking notes from your conversation with the doctor. A few other ways you can advocate for yourself during these interactions include:

  • Always have your medical information handy. When a doctor does not have access to a patient’s full medical history, it can be difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. Be prepared to discuss your health history and your family medical history with your doctor;
  • Come prepared with questions. If it helps you to remember your questions, write them on notecards or keep them in a document in your phone to reference during the appointment;
  • Do your own research about your condition, but do not assume that your research is superior to your doctor’s understanding of the condition. Discuss your research and use it as a foundation for your conversation, rather than attempting to diagnose yourself; and
  • If English is not your first language, ask your doctor if he or she can provide an interpreter to help you understand your conversation. Many hospitals provide interpreters for languages other than English, including American Sign Language.

Work with an Experienced Waukegan Medical Malpractice Attorney

A wrong diagnosis can cause you to suffer a worsened condition or an entirely new health issue. If you suffer from a worsened health condition because of a healthcare provider’s negligence, you could be entitled to recover compensation for your financial damages through a medical malpractice claim. Contact our team of experienced Lake County medical malpractice lawyers at Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. today to set up your initial consultation with a member of our team.

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