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A doctor's failure to listen can cost a patient his or her life

If you visit a doctor because you believe you may have a medical issue, you may tend to accept the diagnosis that he or she gives you. This makes sense in that the doctor is a trained professional and should be able to figure out whether your condition requires treatment. But the fact is that doctors, as educated as they may be, are still human beings and can make mistakes. For this reason, the next time you see a doctor for an examination, you want to pay attention to his or her method of forming your diagnosis.

One of the most important things you can do is give the doctor a full account of your present condition as well as your health history. As you do this, carefully note if your doctor is paying full attention to what you are saying. A Harvard medical professor advises that on average, a doctor will interrupt a patient around 18 seconds after the patient begins to describe his or her symptoms. The professor says that typically, by the time the doctor interrupts, he or she has arrived at a diagnosis.

The problem is, that by the professors' estimate, doctors who interrupt their patients get the diagnosis wrong around 20 percent of the time. And such mistakes can be critical. The Journal of the American Medical Association published information indicating that around 40,000 to 80,000 hospital fatalities may be attributable to misdiagnoses.

Doctors have a duty of care to take the time necessary to properly diagnose their patients. Doing otherwise is negligent and can produce tragic results. If you believe you or a family member has been injured because a doctor's failure to correctly diagnose the symptoms of an illness or condition, an experienced medical malpractice attorney may be able to offer assistance. By accessing and examining all pertinent records, the attorney can work to discover what happened and determine if a lawsuit is a viable means of securing compensation.

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