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Patients should speak up to avoid misdiagnosis

Medical errors, such as surgery on the wrong part of the body, prescription error and misdiagnosis, can worsen a patient's condition or even cause death. Maryland residents probably know that medical errors are identified as "never event" cases, which means that the error should not have happened in the first place. Medical errors could be a result of deviating from standard procedure, miscommunication and other mistakes that can be fatal for the patient.

A patient can help prevent medical errors by simply speaking up during an outpatient office visit. Misdiagnosis, a common medical error, is often a result of inadequate communication between the doctor and the patient. The average physician listens to the patient for only 10 seconds. People should use that 10 seconds to provide necessary information that can help a physician determine the illness and the appropriate treatment needed.

Still, 10 seconds of communication between the doctor and the patient are not enough for healthcare providers to fully understand a patient's condition, which in turn can result in other medical errors. Patients should be clear whenever they talk to their physicians. They should inform their doctors of their medical history, the symptoms of their current illness and other previous medical conditions, which can help the doctor find the best possible solution to cure or treat the patient. It is important for patient to use simple language when communicating with their doctors to avoid miscommunication and other errors.

In the event of a medical error that results in a worsened condition or patient's death, a patient or the family of the patient may wish to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and seek damages from the responsible parties.

Source:, "Is your doctor listening to you? Here's how to avoid a misdiagnosis," Claire Martin, June 30, 2014

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