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Patients can take steps to reduce misdiagnosis

Doctors in New Mexico save lives every day, but they also make mistakes that can prove fatal or severely debilitating. Fortunately, new research findings have identified the most common types of doctor errors and how some of them can be prevented.

Each time a patient seeks a diagnosis from a doctor, he must correctly match the person’s symptoms with one of 68,000 possible diagnoses. Because rare conditions may not readily come to mind, misdiagnoses are common. In fact, they’re much more common than other types of medication errors, surgical errors, or other types of mistakes. The majority of these errors take place not in hospitals but in primary care providers’ offices. Thankfully, there are a few ways to reduce the likelihood that a doctor will misdiagnose a condition.

Doctors are less likely to make an error if they’re presented with a patient’s detailed medical history. When a doctor gives orders, it’s generally a good idea to make sure you understand them and to make note of how they affected your health. Even after a doctor has made a diagnosis, patients may want to ask him if there are any other possibilities he may not have considered. If the patient is still unsure about the diagnosis, seeking another doctor’s opinion may be beneficial.

Even with all of these recommendations, doctors’ misdiagnoses may still cause patients to suffer. In these cases, it may be helpful to work with an attorney. Through a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may be able to receive compensation for the damage a doctor may have caused.

Source: The Daily Courier, “The Good Patient: Avoid being snared by the most common type of medical error,” Elizabeth Bewley, June 30, 2013

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