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How Florida patients can protect themselves from misdiagnosis

Last week, we discussed an instance where a woman was falsely diagnosed with cancer. While misdiagnosing a healthy individual as ill can certainly be harmful, it can be even more so if a sick person is diagnosed as healthy. For example, when an individual is tested for cancer and receives a false negative, then the individual may go untreated for a significant period of time, allowing the cancer to advance. Then, once it is finally discovered, it might be too late.

Fortunately, there are certain steps a patient can take to help ensure they are properly diagnosed. According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, patients should be clear, complete, and accurate when it comes to telling their doctor about their medical concerns. It is also important to be a great historian by diligently documenting any treatments received, how the condition has progressed over time, and a family's medical history. It is also recommended that patients learn about their diagnosis by studying it online or at their local library.

Also, patients should ensure all of their medical professionals know what tests have been conducted and their corresponding results. Lastly, patients should not assume that the "most likely" medical condition is the most accurate. Therefore, they should consider asking their doctor what else the medical condition could be, and encourage medical professionals to consider other possibilities.

A missed diagnosis can be a dangerous thing, and is far too common in Florida. Patients should consider following the above steps to help protect themselves from hospital negligence and undeserved harm. However, should a patient be injured by a doctor or nurse's diagnosis error, then he or she should consider speaking with a Miami attorney about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: National Patient Safety Foundation, "Checklist for Getting the Right Diagnosis," accessed on Sep. 18, 2014

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