Many times, when you have a physical ailment, your first resource may not be your family doctor. You may instead visit one of the many ambulatory care centers, health clinics, emergency rooms or urgent care centers. There, you may expect to receive an immediate examination and access to any diagnostic tests your symptoms may require.
However, if it is an accurate diagnosis you are expecting, recent reports show that you may have gone to the wrong place. In fact, of all the adverse safety events, diagnostic errors are the most common events in ambulatory care centers. Nearly half of all medical mistakes in outpatient care facilities involved a missed or wrong diagnosis.
Where do things go wrong?
In some cases, obtaining a fast and accurate diagnosis is critical to your well-being. Many outpatient clinics and emergency rooms are bustling places with patients at various stages of crisis. A harried doctor who jumps to a diagnosis without taking the time to examine you, test and screen may take you down a road of treatment that, at best, does nothing to improve your health or, at worst, drastically complicates your condition.
One reason why you may receive an incorrect finding is because there are often several phases of diagnostic testing to reach a reasonable conclusion. At any one of these phases, a misread test result, image or scan can result in a grave mistake.
In smaller facilities, your blood and tissue samples may travel off site for testing and analysis. This increases the chances they will become contaminated and lead to a wrong diagnosis. It also increases the chances that the test results will get shuffled and lost, which means your doctor may never receive the results. You may assume that hearing nothing from your doctor means your test results are good when, in fact, you have a condition that needs immediate attention.
What can you do?
Missed or incorrect diagnosis is only one of the ways in which a negligent health care professional can place your life and well-being in danger. Incorrect medications and dosages, surgical errors, and patient falls are others that are high on the list. Often, these events are avoidable when clinic personnel take accurate and complete patient histories before doing anything else.
If you are suffering the consequences of a wrong diagnosis, you have rights. With the advocacy of a compassionate attorney, you may find justice and satisfaction for your suffering by filing a medical malpractice claim in the Tennessee civil courts.