Research shows that nearly 12 million people are injured by medical errors every year. This number may come as a surprise to many Americans, but as experienced Indianapolis misdiagnosis lawyers, we see the painful results of medical errors, including diagnostic errors. Medical malpractice is a growing problem. To understand the problem, it is helpful to look at how medical errors occur.
Understanding Differential Diagnosis
When physicians treat patients, they review symptoms and perform tests, which can range from taking your blood pressure to complex tests such as an MRI or CT scan. Health care providers use these tools to eliminate possible conditions and diseases and focus their efforts on possible causes. While oversimplified, this basically means your doctors are using a well-educated process of elimination known as a differential diagnosis. If they overlook symptoms or fail to order the proper follow-up tests, a patient’s condition may go undiagnosed for a period of time (such as heart attacks or strokes), a missed cancer diagnosis can allow a cancer to advance or condition to get worse.
We like to think physicians are practically infallible, but a 2013 study in the Journal of Patient Safety estimated that 210,000 to 440,000 patients suffer preventable harm at the hospital. That would make medical error are the third leading cause of death in America.
A New Group Aims To Reduce Medical Error In America
A powerful coalition of medical experts, nonprofit agencies, and consumer protection advocates has formed to tackle the issue of medical errors. For the last ten years, the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine has researched the issue of medical error with a focus on identifying problems and protecting the public. The organization is made up of medical boards, nonprofit patient safety and consumer advocacy groups devoted to improving medical diagnoses and reducing errors. The group has helped develop strategies for educating the public about ways to reduce their risk of being a victim of medical error.
What You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk Of Being A Victim
Experts agree that there are certain steps you can take to reduce your risk of being injured. Here are two simple suggestions you can use every time you are in contact with healthcare providers.
1. Take Notes!
This may sound strange as a patient going to a doctor for a routine visit, but it is very helpful to get in the habit of tracking your health conditions. When you get sick, jot down a few notes about your symptoms, when they started, and how long they have persisted. This will help your doctor in reaching an accurate diagnosis.
2. Get second opinions!
It is shocking how often patients fail to ask for a second opinion. It is your right to take charge of your own healthcare. It is your body and your life. If a doctor feels threatened or insulted by your desire to ask for a second opinion, he or she should not be your doctor anymore.
What To Do If You Have Suffered From Medical Error
If, despite your best efforts, you become a victim of a healthcare provider’s malpractice, call an experienced Indianapolis malpractice lawyer who can review your situation and help determine what went wrong. Not all attorneys are alike.
The law firm of Baker & Gilchrist in Avon focuses on assisting victims of medical malpractice in Indiana and has trained medical professionals on staff to review your medical records and determine whether they may have been caused by a doctor’s error or medical negligence. Our attorneys are skilled at recovering compensation for people who have been seriously injured by medical error and misdiagnosis. Since there are strict time limits for filing lawsuits, it is speak with a qualified medical malpractice attorney right away.