Tips For Preventing Doctor Error


Even though there are people in the health care field who are working to prevent mistakes such as misdiagnosis, errors still persist.  Doctors may be seeing a constant stream of patients and feel rushed to see them quickly.  Other doctors may simply make a mistake or overlook an important part of a patient’s medical history, which may in part be due to fragmented medical records.  Additionally, there is a lack of individualization of medical procedures and tests.  Doctors may also jump to a conclusion too quickly, without considering all the possibilities that would lead to the right answer.  Through examinations and accurate diagnosis are important because even small errors can be deadly for patients.

Doctors are not solely responsible for the prevalence of errors.  Patients also contribute to the problem, such as when a patient fails to communicate symptoms, not mention their family disease history, or provide incomplete information to the doctor.  Patients also tend to assume their doctors will know all the answers about every possible disease, condition, or injury.  Tests results make a doctor more accurate.  However, many diagnoses are based on a combination of evidence and the doctor’s ability, or solely on the doctor’s ability.

Misdiagnosis can include:

  • The wrong name is given to an illness or injury.
  • The patient is told that nothing is wrong even though their symptoms suggest that there is something wrong.
  • The patient is told that there is a problem, when in fact no medical problem actually exists.

The best way to prevent misdiagnosis is for the patient to participate in the diagnosis.  A patient can:

  • After the diagnosis ask:  Could it be anything else?  Why did you rule that out?
  • Show up to their appointment with a short list of question and speak up.  It is important that a patient not let the doctor rush them.
  • Call the doctor for lab test results.  Do not wait for the doctor to contact you.
  • Make sure to share all medical information / diagnosis / test results / medications with all your doctors.  Encourage them to talk to each other about your treatment.
  • Get a second opinion.

Taking these steps will not guarantee an error free diagnosis but it is a way for patients to have more control over their own health.  However, if a missed diagnosis leads to a medical complication, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at