It’s estimated that 12 million people in the United States get misdiagnosed each year. Roughly half of those cases of misdiagnosis can cause potentially serious harm to the patients. But even when a misdiagnosis doesn’t result in a life-or-death emergency, there can still be serious consequences to the patient’s health. Recovery can be delayed or harsh treatment like chemo can be ordered that can leave the patient infertile and suffering from many side effects.

Sadly, for about 40,500 patients a year in intensive care, the misdiagnoses will be fatal. How can they be prevented? At least according to one study, 96% of doctors believe many diagnostic errors are 100% preventable.

Patients can proactively take steps to reduce their risk of misdiagnosis. One way to do that is prepare in advance of the visit by:

  • Writing a list of questions for your doctor
  • Bringing copies of lab work from other providers to your office visit
  • Know your own medical history and be prepared to provide it
  • Bring a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you take to your doctor visit
  • Chart your own symptoms and progress
  • Take notes during the appointment with your doctor
  • Bring someone with you who can advocate for you if you get confused by the information provided by your physician

Despite your best efforts, you could still wind up suffering the effects of a misdiagnosis. In those cases, your first priority should be getting a correct diagnosis by another doctor and starting a treatment regime. Then, you may decide to seek legal recourse against the medical provider who misdiagnosed you.