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Communication is key to avoid medical mistakes like misdiagnosis

Communication is something that people do every day, so it is easy to take it for granted. However, effective communication is essential in order to maintain a balanced and even better life. Also, in a medical sense, Maryland residents should know that effective communication can make a difference in preventing medical mistakes such as misdiagnosis. A physician, who also co-authored a book, recently shared essential information as to how patients can properly communicate with their doctors.

According to a study, misdiagnosis is the most common of all medical mistakes. It is also the most dangerous and costly. Inadequate communication between doctor and patient often causes misdiagnosis. On average, doctors listen to a patient describe symptoms for 10 seconds before interrupting, according to the physician. So it is important to make the most of this short time by clearly identifying one's symptoms. However, trouble occurs when a doctor, instead of listening, relies on medical algorithms and protocols. This means looking at symptoms as fragments and not as a whole.

To avoid misdiagnosis, patients must use ways to effectively communicate. One is to write down a summary of a health concern and the timeline. Include when the problem began and what one was doing while the health problem started. Also, include when the problem got worse or better and any medications or steps that were taken. Two, be concise and narrate the summary to the doctor in simple terms. Three, ask what the doctor thinks and write it down.

If a Maryland patient effectively communicates but is still misdiagnosed, it may be necessary to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical errors like misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose and treat an illness can result in a patient's worsened condition or even death. Filing a lawsuit may lead to compensation in order to cover medical expenses and corrective treatment, as well as other expenses. It also can be a mechanism to hold a doctor liable.

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

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