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Holding doctors accountable for a misdiagnosis

Nov 20, 2012 | Failure to Diagnose

When someone has an unknown health condition, it can be a frightening experience. People expect that a qualified physician will be able to properly diagnose them. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. One New York City resident knows that all too well.

A 20-year-old man went to the emergency room because he was experiencing intense headaches. At first, doctors told him he had cluster headaches. He was sent home with pain medication.

He returned to the same emergency room two more times when the headaches and pain would not go away. However, doctors continued to give him the same diagnosis. After visiting another hospital, he was finally diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a very serious condition.

Medical misdiagnosis is a bigger problem than most people probably think. According to the American Journal of Medicine, about 15 percent of people are not given an accurate diagnosis.

There may be ways, however, to prevent a misdiagnosis. Patients should be sure to ask their doctors lots of questions.

"The more you can engage in a conversation about your care, the more you can get your doctor to think about you and to use all that education and knowledge and insight that he or she has to make a good decision about your care," the president of Best Doctors said.

Patients who have suffered complications as a result of a misdiagnosis may also consider pursing legal action. A medical malpractice lawsuit may be appropriate in certain situations. After all, an accurate diagnosis can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

Source: NY1, "Helpful Tips To Avoid Getting A Misdiagnosis," Shazia Khan, Nov. 12, 2012