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Half a million American die annually because of doctor's errors

When professionals like plumbers, gardeners and even teachers make a mistake, the situation is often salvageable. A sincere apology and corrections here and there can be enough. However, when doctors make mistakes, the result is often tragic. Unfortunately, a medical author, who is also a pharmacy professor, revealed that doctor's errors happen in 15 percent of all medical procedures. This in turn reportedly leads to around 500,000 medical fatalities a year in the United States, a figure that Maryland residents should take very seriously.

The biggest problem, the author says, is misdiagnosis. When a patient gets misdiagnosed, the situation often goes spiraling out of control with unexpected complications. A misdiagnosis can lead to an incorrect prescription or treatment. Furthermore, when a patient gets a clean bill of health even though disease is present, the disease lingers untreated and can result in a worsened condition to the point where the disease becomes untreatable.

The author considers overconfidence the number one reason for misdiagnosis. He explained that doctors may be unwilling to consider other medical alternatives or do not take the proper time to assess the patient's symptoms properly. Another cause is when doctors rush to a diagnosis because of their heavy patient load. He also added that mistakes can be made when doctors are reluctant to seek assistance from other doctors when it comes to difficult cases.

Whatever the causes of the mistakes, the author recommended patients ask questions when consulting a doctor. Patients should ask how confident the doctor is with the diagnosis, what tests will strengthen the diagnosis and what symptoms or findings do not fit the diagnosis. Patients should also inquire if a doctor will be open for discussion when symptoms change or if a patient has questions. Medical malpractice is a serious concern; Maryland patients can do their part to avoid being part of the statistics.

Source: Newsmaxhealth.com, "Doctor errors kill 500,000 Americans a year," Lynn Allison, Aug. 26, 2014

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