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Health care workers can help prevent diagnostic errors

New Mexico patients may be interested in learning that about 10 percent of patient deaths are caused by diagnostic errors. The errors are often attributed to doctors sticking to an early diagnosis without considering other possibilities later on. Further, many patients simply do not feel comfortable talking to their doctors about the diagnosis.

There are three things that health care providers can do to reduce any potential diagnostic errors. First, the health care team can take a time out prior to beginning surgeries or procedures. This gives the team a chance to double check that they have the right patient and they are about to perform the right surgery. This can also be done when it comes to trying to diagnose a medical issue. Second, health care providers can also seek second opinions from other professionals. It is recommended that doctors talk to the pathologists or radiologists who conducted the tests before concluding on a diagnosis.

Finally, health care organizations should be focused on tracking how long it takes to get test results back and to discuss the diagnosis with the patient. This is particularly important as some diagnoses need to be made quickly and the process can involve multiple steps and many different specialists.

In some cases, a delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis can potentially lead to serious harm or even death depending on the patient's condition. If the misdiagnosis or late diagnosis caused the patient to suffer from associated problems and need more medical care, an attorney may potentially help the patient file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Depending on the situation, the attorney may assist the patient with seeking compensation for certain financial damages including additional medical costs and lost income if the misdiagnosis kept them from working.

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