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Prevent Misdiagnosis: 5 Ways To Help Your Doctor Get It Right

When people think of medical malpractice, they are likely to envision horrifying errors. A surgeon operates on the wrong body part. A nurse abuses nursing home residents.

While these things do happen, the most common cause of medical malpractice is less dramatic - misdiagnosis. A panel of medical experts recently found that missed and late diagnoses are so common that a majority of Americans experience them - in some cases, suffering great harm. Fortunately, you can help prevent a misdiagnosis from happening to you. Here's how.

  1. Share your medical history with your doctor. Cancer, heart disease and more can run in families. If you don't know your family medical history, ask your relatives. And, if you don't have good records of your personal medical history, call your providers to request copies.
  2. Write everything down. Take notes at home and at the doctor's office. Write down your symptoms, as well as your concerns or questions to prepare to see your physician.
  3. Be specific. Be as specific as possible when describing your symptoms. If you have pain, when did it begin? When is it worst? The more information you can share with your medical team, the better conclusions they can draw.
  4. Avoid drawing conclusions. Guide your doctor in the right direction by informing him or her about your symptoms and medical history, but do not diagnose yourself. By keeping the door open, your physician is more likely to consider all possibilities.
  5. Ask questions throughout the process. Being an active participant in the diagnostic process is critical. Ask your doctor questions at every turn. If your doctor diagnoses you, when should you feel better? What is the timeline? When should you follow-up? What else could it be? Do not be afraid to second-guess your doctor. Get a second or third opinion. Your wellbeing may depend on this active involvement.

While there are steps you can take to prevent misdiagnoses, you are not to blame if you are suffering. If you or someone you love is the victim of a misdiagnosis or another medical error, talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney like Kevin Martin.

As a registered nurse and medical malpractice attorney, Kevin Martin offers free legal consultations to help Wisconsin residents understand their options.

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