Tips for New Jersey patients to prevent getting a misdiagnosis

Most people in New Jersey will visit doctors at some stage in their lives — for routine care, as part of continued treatment or, in some cases, in an emergency situation. There is an inherent expectation that the medical doctors and healthcare providers will provide a reasonable standard of care. But, when a doctor fails to diagnose a potentially serious condition or misdiagnoses a condition, the patient unnecessarily suffers.

According to the American Journal of Medicine nearly 15 percent of people receive a wrong diagnosis. Further, doctors indicated that there were errors in care they themselves received or when a family member received it. In fact, when a New York man reported to the emergency room with a series of intense headaches, he was sent home with pain medications and a diagnosis of cluster headaches. His headaches came back but his diagnosis remained unchanged for a second and third time. He decided to seek a second opinion and went to another hospital where he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

Although doctors have an on-going duty to provide a reasonable standard of care, the case above illustrates that patients should take active steps to avoid a misdiagnosis and not shy away from asking a lot of questions or seeking a second opinion. If one’s gut instinct suggests that something is wrong, there very well may be something wrong. It is important for people to follow their instincts.

Serious illnesses, conditions and even death can be prevented by patients playing active in their care. But, doctors and healthcare providers still make mistakes and when they do, a negligent doctor or healthcare provider may be held liable. A family or the patient that has suffered may be able to recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.

Source: NY 1 News, “Helpful Tips To Avoid Getting A Misdiagnosis,” Shazia Khan, Nov. 12, 2012