A pain, a rash, a mysterious bump or a fainting spell are just a few symptoms that may send you to the emergency room, urgent care or your doctor’s office. You are hoping to find an answer that will put your mind at ease or at least remove the fear and wondering. The medical team may order tests, ask you questions and examine you before sending you off with a diagnosis and a prescription.
If the diagnosis is correct, you may soon feel relief. However, what happens if the diagnosis is wrong? Unfortunately, diagnostic errors are the most common mistake that occurs in ambulatory medical facilities. In fact, almost half of all medical errors in these settings is a wrong diagnosis.
A weak link
Because diagnostics is a complex procedure involving many elements and often many people, it is easy to understand how mistakes can happen. You may have encountered nurses, phlebotomists, radiologists and others in addition to your doctor. Others you never met, such as lab technicians and consulting specialists, participated in the efforts to arrive at a diagnosis. Any member of this chain could have made a mistake, lost focus or rushed through the process, perhaps leaving you in worse condition than when you first arrived.
A recent report on patient safety recommends that these medical facilities develop protocol and checks and balances, employing technology that will help them avoid mistakes like misreading your scans, forgetting to contact your doctor with test results or neglecting to follow up with you after your visit. More thorough family and medical histories can also help narrow down the kinds of screenings to order and reduce the potential that a doctor will prescribe the wrong drug.
While diagnostic mistakes comprise about 47% of errors in ambulatory settings, medication errors are close behind with almost 30%. Most often, this includes giving the wrong drug, which is commonly the result of poorly organized medication storage, inadequate training for medical assistants, lack of protocol for ensuring you get the right medicine and other preventable mistakes.
Errors with medication can include giving you the wrong drug, administering the wrong dosage or giving you medicine to which you are allergic or that has contraindications with a drug you are currently taking. Such mistakes can cause grave injury and even death.
If you have suffered a medical setback because of a wrong diagnosis or medication error, you have every right to be upset and frustrated. You may also have options. One option is to reach out to a Mississippi attorney who can help you take the most appropriate steps for seeking restitution for your injuries.