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How can you determine if you are a victim of misdiagnosis?

Any treatment of an illness or disease begins with a diagnosis. This is the first crucial point in treatment. A single error can lead to other errors that can endanger a patient's life. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is too frequent in the United States, as some Maryland residents have discovered. Based on autopsy studies, 15 percent of all medical errors resulted from misdiagnoses.

So how can you tell if you have been misdiagnosed? No diagnosis should be based on a single test. In rheumatology, where most diagnoses are based on blood tests, patients should ask their physicians to explain their diagnoses. If a patient still believes that one test is not enough, then he or she should seek a second opinion or ask the doctors to consult with another medical professional to determine if the diagnosis is correct.

What is a sign of misdiagnosis? If a treatment is not working as expected, then follow up by finding out why. After a doctor has prescribed a treatment, it is important for patients to determine if the condition being treated is actually improving. If not, this could be a sign that the wrong diagnosis was made. Speaking with their doctors could lead to adjustments in medication or reevaluation of the condition in order to find a better treatment.

What about doctors working outside their specialties? Family doctors are good at spotting a wide variety of diseases by their most common symptoms, but complicated cases may require specialized doctors. If a patient believes tha the or she is not being diagnosed correctly, then it is time to ask for a second opinion.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with a medical condition, but found that his or her condition did not improve should seek a second opinion, if necessary. If a misdiagnosis causes harm, a patient also may be able to file a medical malpractice claim.

Source: Arthritis Foundation, "Here are seven signs to look for if you feel you've been misdiagnosed.," Brenda Goodman, accessed Jan. 7, 2015

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