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Why are medical errors so terrible?

It's no joke when a medical professional makes a mistake that causes you injuries or fails to treat a condition you're suffering from. It's true that most people will suffer from a delayed diagnosis or get the wrong diagnosis at least once, but sometimes those mistakes can lead to devastating consequences for those involved. Inattention or neglect shown by a medical professional can do more than mean someone is sick a little longer; it can mean the spread of disease, increasing damage, and unnecessary pain and suffering.

Several examples of diagnostic mistakes may make it clear why it's so important for your doctor to pay attention to you as a patient. In one case, a woman whose family history suggested she could suffer from heart disease had asked for a referral to a cardiologist. She got that referral months later, but she died from coronary artery disease that same day. In another case, a misread X-ray led to a man suffering from pneumonia being misdiagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. That resulted in his death.

These mistakes are preventable, if doctors take the time to review a patient's needs and test for possible diseases or disorders. It's hard to measure just how many of these errors take place, since many never lead to serious harm, but it's a significant enough problem to warrant concern. How can you keep safe as a patient? Ask questions and be your own advocate. If something doesn't seem right, speak up. If you are hurt because of an error, make sure your attorney knows, so you can file the appropriate claim.

Source: CNN, "Doctor error, sometimes fatal, has no easy cure in sight, researchers say," John Bonlfield, accessed April 27, 2016

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