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Why may oncologists be prone to mistakes?

Oncologists are physicians who provide quality health care to patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. As we all know, cancer is a debilitating disease that can devastate victims and their families. While oncologists generally intend to provide their patients with the best care possible, many of them make medical errors with regard to diagnosis and recommending and administering treatment.

At the American Society for Radiation Oncology 2017 Annual Meeting, one physicist suggested that physicians generally may be prone to making medical errors. Autopsy studies, second reviews and surveys, have apparently discovered that doctors have made diagnostic errors in approximately 15 percent of cases. Because many cancer patients are subjected to high levels of radiation, any calculation errors while determining dosage can be life-threatening.

Another expert at the conference explained that some of these errors can be avoided if doctors stop being overconfident while treating patients. While overconfidence may not always be deliberate, there are ways for physicians to avoid letting their overconfidence effect the care they give their patients. For example, one expert suggested that the best way to avoid making mistakes is asking yourself how you could be wrong.

Medical errors among oncologists occur due to a physician's workload, according to another study. The more work a physician has, the more likely they are to make a mistake in radiation therapy planning. In addition to workload, fatigue, having bias toward or against certain patients, or cognitive overload may also cause a problem. Workplace rudeness, time pressure, task complexity and new transfers may also play a role in these errors. To make matters worse, many doctors do not even notice when they are making a mistake. There are strategies that physicians can implement to avoid bias, as well as these other issues.

Maryland oncologists who make medical errors that harm a patient may be guilty of medical malpractice. If you are a victim of a medical mistake, contact a qualified attorney for assistance.

Source: Medscape, "Why Smart Oncologists Do Dumb Things," Nick Mulcahy, Oct. 5, 2017

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