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The Red Flags of a Misdiagnosis: Do You Know Them?

Written by Berkowitz

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Malpractice Attorneys Fighting for Victims of Misdiagnosed Conditions throughout Connecticut

Most patients suspect something is not right. Whether the diagnosis just doesn’t fit, or their gut is telling them that the treatment is not working, they often turn to their physician first for answers.

Physicians are expected to put their patients’ interests at the top of their list, but they do not always do so – sometimes, this results in injuries.

Misdiagnoses are the most common form of medical malpractice. It is the inaccurate diagnosis of an illness or ailment. Medical professionals may misdiagnose a patient due to a variety of factors, but most are due to negligence. For example, a physician may diagnose a patient without testing, and later it is revealed that the diagnosis was wrong.

While instances of misdiagnosis may be harmless, others could be life-threatening or leave a patient spending time and thousands of dollars battling an illness that could have been treated faster with the right diagnosis the first time.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, be an advocate for yourself first, and know the signs of a misdiagnosis so that you can seek help when the red flags are there.

Common Red Flags for a Misdiagnosis

1. Your Intuition Says Something is Wrong

You went to the family doctor and told him or her about your symptoms as best as you could. You recalled when they started and how you felt. You may have had lab work or diagnostic tests already done in the past. Perhaps you leave the office confident about the diagnosis you received. You have no questions about the physician’s ability. Most of the time, this is how the relationship between practitioner and patient works.

However, there are instances when a patient may leave the doctor’s office and feel that something isn’t right. The diagnosis does not add up with the symptoms, or the information received seems inconsistent.

Per the Huffington Post, millions of Americans receive a wrong diagnosis each year. So, if your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, chances are you are correct.

Intuition is powerful, and most patients know when something does not add up. Therefore, if you do not agree with the diagnosis, get a second opinion, or question your physician before accepting treatment. Doing so could potentially save your life or the life of a loved one.

2. Your Physician Ignores Your Concerns

Most patients can communicate with their physicians. However, sometimes they get the feeling that their physicians are just pushing them through to get to the next patient. Today, physicians are overwhelmed with patients, and often they have just a few minutes to spend with each one.

Therefore, if your physician will not listen to you or just ignores your concerns, and the diagnosis doesn’t sit right with you, you may be right.

If a physician doesn’t seem like he or she is listening, this does not automatically mean that he or she is wrong in the diagnosis. The problem is, however, that he or she may hear what you are saying but not listen to what you are trying to convey.

Patients are their best advocates. When you tell your physician what is bothering you and when you are as precise as possible in your descriptions, it helps. If you do not feel as though your physician is listening to your concerns, then let him or her know or seek help from a second doctor.

3. When You Research Online, You Get Something Else

You feel like your diagnosis is not right, so you start searching online. While you know you are not a medical professional, you do want some guidance about your gut feeling and the diagnosis you received.

After doing a search, you find that what you thought wasn’t right is matching up with what you find online. Maybe you have found a different diagnosis, or the diagnosis you thought has appeared.

You are not a doctor, but you could see another doctor for a confirmation of your gut feeling. Mention to the second doctor what you were diagnosed with, and then what you found online.

One note of importance: Always research on credible medical websites online. There are numerous non-authoritative sites out there that are not written by professionals and do not verify anything said with raw data. If you take those websites into account, then you could be led down an incorrect path – even if your physician was correct.

4. You Were Prescribed Multiple Medications

Some physicians, to save on time, will skip testing their patients and just treat without proper diagnosing.

When symptoms do not add up, you should look at the prescriptions you received. If you received multiple prescriptions from your doctor in a single visit, you should question whether those medications are necessary – or, if your physician is just attempting broad treatment.

The more medications you are on, the more risks you face. All medications have side-effects; therefore, you could experience multiple side-effects from unnecessary medications. When you become older, certain medications can weaken your kidneys and liver function. Some can become extremely dangerous when they are taken in combination with one another. Therefore, read all information provided to you about the medications you were prescribed. If you have questions, you should call your pharmacist to verify.

When you are prescribed multiple medications, do not be afraid to ask your physician about the medications that he or she gave you, their functions, and what they are designed to treat.

5. Your Symptoms Do Not Go Away

After you have given the medical treatments time to work, and you followed the instructions from your provider, you may notice that you are still not getting any better. When a treatment plan is based on an incorrect diagnosis, your symptoms may not respond to treatment.

It is important to let your physician know that the symptoms have not gone away, and that you would like further testing to confirm the diagnosis, or look for another diagnosis.

Also, look at your medical history. Were any of your lab test results abnormal? Were any tests performed before your doctor started prescribing medications?

6. Your Symptoms Worsen

When you are not given the right treatment, you may notice that you become worse. This is an instant red flag that must be addressed by a medical professional immediately. If your symptoms continue to worsen and your health declines, the treatment is not working and you must seek medical care.

7. You Were Diagnosed with a Single Lab Test

While performing multiple tests could be unnecessary, most professionals will agree that labs make mistakes. Therefore, any time a physician has a serious diagnosis to give to a patient, he or she will run multiple tests to confirm – especially if your symptoms do not match up with the lab work’s conclusion.

8. Your Physician Recommends Surgery Without Other Testing

If your physician jumps to an extreme treatment without any forms of testing, you should contact another physician for a second opinion. Surgery has inherent risks, and some procedures are riskier than others. Therefore, do not consent to a serious treatment until you have confirmed the diagnosis with another medical provider.

If at that time you receive two entirely different diagnoses from the physicians, you will want to consider which doctor may be right, and if there was negligence involved.

9. Your Physician Orders Tests After Treatment

Sometimes, a physician will start treating and only order tests after the treatments have begun or when the treatments are not working. If your physician is suddenly ordering more tests and then comes to a new diagnosis – one that should have been caught earlier – you may be the victim of misdiagnosis, particularly if the physician did not perform that same test prior to diagnosing you, and your symptoms remained the same throughout.

Most physicians will follow a specific process when they are presented with a sick patient. They go through this process to help them narrow down the possibilities and rule out possible diagnoses. When a physician skips this step and moves straight to treatment – with testing only performed later – he or he is being negligent.

What to do if Your Condition is Misdiagnosed

If your physician misdiagnosed your serious condition or if you received treatments for a condition you did not have, you may be entitled to compensation. However, you must first speak with a medical malpractice attorney to explore your options and have your case assessed.

A Connecticut malpractice attorney must consult a medical professional to see how he or she would have acted in a similar situation, what tests should have been performed, and if the treatment or prognosis was concluded negligently.

If you do have a case, your malpractice lawyer will then seek compensation from the negligent physician, and ensure that the physician practices proper procedures in the future.

Filing a malpractice claim against a physician is scary, but it is your only way to protect yourself and ensure that other patients are not harmed in the future due to the same mistakes. You should also not be responsible for paying the medical bills, taking time off work, and enduring pain and suffering caused by a physician who failed to follow standard procedure.

Contact a Connecticut Malpractice Law Firm Today

After your misdiagnosis, you should contact an attorney who will serve as your advocate. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Contact us online to get started.