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Misdiagnosis of difficult patients

Although patients in New Mexico and throughout the United States may feel that it is important to be assertive during medical appointments, those who demonstrate difficult behaviors could be more at risk of medical errors such as a misdiagnosis. Recent research indicates that aggressive behavior, demanding attitudes and questioning of a professional's medical knowledge or competence distract from the attention that would otherwise be focused on the medical issues at hand.

One of the studies in question assessed individuals who were completing their final year of training in the area of family medicine. Of the 63 physicians involved, 42 percent were deemed to show a greater propensity for misdiagnosing difficult patients in comparison to neutral parties when complex medical conditions were at play. When evaluated for handling simple cases, only 6 percent were more likely to incorrectly diagnose a condition. In reviewing the data, researchers indicate that in real-life situations, difficult behavior can be stronger, which could have an even greater impact on errors in diagnosis.

It may be helpful for patients to understand that their speech and actions could impact a medical professional's ability to focus on the objective details during an office visit. However, assertiveness can be important if a physician appears to be ignoring a person's symptoms. For example, extensive surgeries for joint damage might be considered unusual for a young patient. However, a failure to consider issues such as autoimmune disease in spite of a patient's explanation of constitutional symptoms such as fatigue and malaise might be viewed as a failure to diagnose.

An incorrect diagnosis or a failure to diagnose does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice. However, a patient who has asked about a possible disease and been ignored could later pursue remedies with the help of an attorney if serious harm results because of the inadequate efforts of a physician.

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