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Communication breakdown can lead to medical misdiagnosis


Posted on behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Jul 17, 2014 in Medical Malpractice

In many ways, most visits with doctors are the same. Medical providers ask patients about their medical history and any troublesome ongoing symptoms. Paying careful attention to the information given during an initial interview can go a long way in moving toward diagnosis and treatment.

The reality, however, is that people are subject to inaccurate diagnoses and suffer the consequences. According to the noteworthy journal BMJ, misdiagnosis is the most common and dangerous type of medical mistake. Providing a diagnosis, albeit incorrect, and treatment can provide patients with a false sense of security until the true underlying condition becomes even more severe.

A recently released book covers one of the common reasons for misdiagnosis: failure to listen. When doctors are trying to see a long list of patients every day, they may not be giving every person enough attention. By tuning patients out or preventing them from completing their thoughts, medical providers might be missing crucial information.

This seems so simple, but represents a major problem. Given the limited time that some doctors have with each patient, every moment used to gather information should be treated as valuable. With that said, being busy is no excuse for providing inattentive care. Giving patients an accurate, carefully considered diagnosis is simply part of a doctor's professional duty of care.

Of course, finding an accurate medical diagnosis can be difficult from time to time, and doctors may work diligently to find an answer. Problems emerge when medical providers overlook or miss important diagnostic evidence. Patients rely on doctors to use their training and skills to pick this information out.

Without the reassurance of an attentive doctor, who can patients trust?

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