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Medical misdiagnoses more common than people think

Some 12 million people in the U.S. are affected every year by medical diagnostic errors. Researchers believe that half of these errors can potentially lead to serious harm. Perhaps you are one of those patients who has suffered such harm in Michigan. You should know, then, that a number of factors contribute to this trend.

Addressing cognitive bias

The National Academy of Medicine has a report out called Improving Diagnosis in Health Care, which lays out all the goals that medical communities should be aiming for in order to reduce errors. One of these goals is the improvement of medical training.

Current medical students are usually taught by rote to recognize the basic pattern of a given condition but not its less apparent symptoms. The report says that real-world simulation training can help to enhance this approach. Another thing that curricula should introduce is the notion of cognitive bias. For example, heart disease is too often thought of as a “man’s disease,” putting women at acute risk for misdiagnosis.

Diagnosis is a collaborative effort

The report goes on to stress the importance of teamwork in diagnosis. No single clinician can accurately diagnose a condition and should not try. Doctors cannot improve their diagnostic procedures, though, without an overall culture of safety.

Other goals that can help minimize diagnostic errors are the more effective use of health information technology and the establishment of a reporting and liability system. Of course, patients should do their part by seeking a second opinion and always having specific questions for their doctors. Doctors, who are increasingly strapped for time, cannot answer general questions.

Personal attention on your case

Chances are you have specific questions about filing a medical malpractice claim. After all, if a doctor misdiagnosed you or took an unreasonably long time to diagnose your condition correctly, there is the possibility of negligence. Bias could have played a role; women and minorities are more likely to be misdiagnosed. A lawyer may closely evaluate your case and even take it on so that you receive the compensation you deserve.

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Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC

3049 Miller Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

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