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Four steps to avoid a misdiagnosis or late diagnosis

Although you may believe otherwise, medical misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses are actually quite common. Unfortunately, it is very likely that you or someone that you know has or will experience this form of medical malpractice.

Although it is not known how many of these medical mistakes occur each year, a recent study said that most Americans will experience a misdiagnosis or late diagnosis at some point in their lives. Even though some of these errors or inconsequential, they often can prove fatal, especially in a delayed or overlooked cancer diagnosis. A recent Institute of Medicine report found that misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses are twice as likely to cause the patient’s death than other types of medical errors.

Fortunately, when seeking medical treatment, you can take steps to minimize the possibility of a misdiagnosis or late diagnosis.

1. Know your history. Serious medical conditions like heart disease or cancer can be hereditary. As a result, it is important to provide your doctor with a thorough family medical history and specific information about your symptoms. If you are unsure of your family history, ask your relatives.

2. Document everything. Before you visit your doctor, take notes of all of your symptoms (i.e. when they began, when they occur, etc.) and document all of the treatments you have received and share these with your doctor. If necessary, contact previous medical providers for copies of your medical records. Also, write down all questions as well as any concerns that you have before you visit your physician.

3. Ask questions. Writing down your questions will not do you any good if you do not ask them during your consultation. Although your doctor may seem to be in a hurry, don’t let this make you feel like your questions aren’t important. Once your physician has reached a diagnosis, ask how they arrived at their diagnosis, whether there could be other explanations for your symptoms, and why he or she ruled out these other possible causes.

4. Get another opinion. If something does not seem right about your initial diagnosis, do not be afraid to seek the opinion of a second or subsequent physician. In some cases, diagnostic tests can be misread, patient complaints ignored, or telling symptoms overlooked. A second opinion can often mean the difference between a full recovery and death due to ineffective treatment.

If you or a loved one has been harmed from a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis contact the Epstein Law Firm, P.A. Our attorneys are some of the most experienced lawyers in New Jersey in this area. We can help you understand your legal options and work to hold the responsible medical professionals accountable.

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