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What happens when your doctor doesn't know best?

Patients put their faith — and their lives — in their doctors' hands every day. We trust that their skills and accumulated knowledge will be sufficient to diagnose and treat what ails us.

But what happens when the doctors are wrong? Diagnostic errors can kill patients by hastening their deaths from often-treatable conditions. The errors also prolong suffering and cause unnecessary anxiety and fear in patients and also their loved ones.

It's the physician's responsibility to make a correct diagnosis from the case history, patient's symptoms and signs and test results. Without an accurate diagnosis, there can be no effective treatment plan and the patient continues to decline.

Some doctors may convince themselves that they don't make diagnostic errors. If they ever discover the opposite to be true, they may, out of shame, attempt to hide their error. According to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in its 2015 report on diagnostic errors, identifying these errors was the most expensive and harmful medical error. To wit, it's estimated that 40,000-80,000 deaths occur annually here in this country from diagnostic errors — and as many as 17 percent of diagnoses are not accurate.

Part of the problem is the increasing complexities of the medical field. Also, diagnostic errors may be increasing due to administrative burdens and heavier caseloads. Staying abreast with continuous changes in medical knowledge is challenging, and it's estimated that medical knowledge is going to double every 73 days in 2020.

If you suffered from a worsened condition due to a doctor's misdiagnosis, or if your loved one succumbed due to being wrongly diagnosed, you have the right to pursue civil justice by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent doctor and other defendants.

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