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Protect Yourself from Misdiagnosis and Other Leading Causes of Medical Error

Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death, with hundreds of thousands of people dying each year due to preventable medical errors. Misdiagnosis tops the list of preventable medical error in the United States. In fact, diagnostic errors are believed to affect 10 to 20 percent of cases, far exceeding medication errors and surgical errors.

The consequences of diagnostic errors are often catastrophic. According to a 2009 report, 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes reported anonymously by doctors were life-threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability. With the potential consequences of misdiagnosis so dire, it is important that patients be their own best advocate and do what they can to prevent misdiagnosis.

Patients should be able to trust that their doctor will properly diagnose their medical condition, and if a doctor misses a diagnosis, he or she may be liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. But there are certain things that patient can do in order to minimize the risk of misdiagnosis, including:

  • Getting a second opinion. According to the New York Times, evidence shows that second opinions can lead to significant changes in a patient's diagnosis or in recommendations for treating a disease, particularly with respect to radiology images and biopsy pathology slides.

  • Reviewing your medical records. Recent studies show that both physicians and patients are open to granting patients access to their own records so that patients can stay involved with decisions regarding their health care.

  • Asking questions and educating yourself about your condition or diagnosis. The more information that you have about your symptoms, condition, and possible diagnoses, the better equipped you will be to be a proactive participant in the diagnosis process and treatment options.

  • Being truthful.It is incredibly important that you provide your doctor with full and complete information regarding your medical conditions, medications you are taking, and your health care history so that he or she has the information needed to make a proper diagnosis.


Other common medical errors include surgical errors and medication errors.  According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University, surgical "never events" - those errors that should never happen, such as wrong-site surgeries or leaving medical equipment in the patient - occur at least 4,000 times a year in the United States and more than 80,000 "never events" occurred between 1990 and 2010. And approximately 1.3 million people are injured each year in the United States as a result of a medication error.

Because medical errors, including misdiagnosis, often involve medical malpractice, it is important that you consult with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer if you or a loved one were the victim of a medical error. The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are committed to protecting the public from medical errors and helping the victims of medical malpractice obtain full and fair financial compensation for their injuries.

If you suspect that you might have been the victim of medical negligence, contact the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible medical malpractice claim.


Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  ( is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.

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