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Physician "calibration" may be necessary to avoid misdiagnoses

When a patient goes to a doctor for a medical diagnosis or treatment, they expect to receive adequate care based on the standard accepted in the medical community. When a doctor fails to properly diagnose their patient, the patient may file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and hospital responsible for their treatment.

An internist physician at the University of Chicago recently reported that doctors who are not "calibrated" to make the correct patient-related decisions are more likely to make diagnostic errors. This means that doctors who treat mostly healthy patients may automatically think that certain tests are unnecessary or that certain conditions are not worth considering. Some of these physicians may be overly confident and assume that their patients are exaggerating. As a result, they may ignore critical symptoms, fail to run certain tests and misdiagnose their patients. On the other hand, physicians who are less confident or have been properly "calibrated" are more likely to order more tests to make sure their diagnosis is correct.

Doctors experiencing burn out or stress are more likely to make diagnostic errors. A doctor who is exhausted and overwhelmed may find it more difficult to listen to patient concerns and think through their diagnoses.

To reduce diagnostic errors, the medical community will need to gather more data on patient care and patient satisfaction, as well as administer physician assessments to measure what factors impact diagnostic "calibration." As researchers continue to come up with new ways to prevent medical errors, many patients will fall victim to these errors. Patients who have been misdiagnosed and suffered harm as a result of their doctor's negligence may need to get more information about recovering damages in court.

Source: FierceHealthcare, "Diagnostic calibration to blame for medical errors," Paige Minemyer, Aug. 22, 2017

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