Questioning Your Doctor About a Diagnosis (or the Lack of One)
When suffering symptoms that seem to indicate underlying disorders, the first step is generally a visit to the doctor in the hopes of getting a diagnosis. An accurate assessment of your medical health is key to getting the treatment you need, and errors can end up proving life threatening or resulting in permanent harm. Unfortunately, medical misdiagnosis is a common problem and a leading factor in medical malpractice claims. The following are steps you can take if you suspect your doctor has made an error in your diagnosis or the types of treatment prescribed.
The Dangers of a Medical Misdiagnosis
Symptoms of very serious and potentially fatal injuries and illnesses are often subtle. They may mimic more minor conditions or be difficult to detect at all. While most of us tend to trust our doctor’s training, knowledge, and experience in such matters, this trust can be misplaced. It is important to act as your own patient advocate to avoid serious and often tragic outcomes.
According to Johns Hopkins University, medical errors have increased dramatically over the last several decades and are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Of these, medical misdiagnosis is among the most common type of mistake. Not diagnosing a condition or misdiagnosing it as something else can result in dangerous delays in treatment, while allowing your injury or illness to become more advanced. In cases involving cancer, heart disease, head injuries, blood disorders, and other serious conditions, it can end up meaning the difference between life and death.
Questioning Your Doctor
Doctors represent powerful authority figures, and have a level of education and training that few of us possess. As a result, patients are naturally reluctant to question them or to challenge their judgement in matters pertaining to their health.
The Center for Advancing Health advises that if you have any doubts about your diagnosis or treatment and in cases of a major injury or illness, it is always a good idea to ask questions and to get a second opinion. Valid concerns your doctor should be willing to address include the following:
- What are my test results?
- What makes you think I have this injury/illness?
- Is there a chance it could be anything else?
- What are my treatment options?
- What is my prognosis for recovery, depending on the type of treatment I receive?
Getting a second opinion is not something you should feel the need to hide from your doctor. In fact, you should inform them of your intention. Simply say, “I would like to get a second opinion before beginning treatment,” or tell them your family insists upon it.
Contact Us Today for Help
When you suspect a medical misdiagnosis or other mistakes on the part of medical providers, the Law Firm of William E. Raikes, III is here to act as a strong legal advocate on your behalf. Contact our Fort Pierce medical malpractice attorney and request a consultation today to discuss your situation and how we can help you.