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Reducing the Risk of Misdiagnosis: Communicating With Your Doctor

Misdiagnosis is a major cause of personal injury, fatalities, and complications in America. In the United States, about 12 million patients are misdiagnosed, with up to 80,000 people dying each year from these misdiagnoses.

Misdiagnosis happens for many reasons. Doctors may be busy or they may fail to carefully consider a patient’s symptoms. They may not run necessary tests. In some cases, however, communication can play a role.


For a diagnosis to be made, doctors must listen to their patients and use the information they hear to determine what tests may be needed or what the most likely diagnosis is. By improving communication with your doctor, you can improve your chances of getting the right diagnosis.

Here’s how.

  • Find the right doctor. Your primary care physician is a key element in your healthcare. He or she coordinates your care, understands your overall health, and can make recommendations to the right specialists. Look for a doctor you trust—someone who listens and someone you trust.
  • Write it down. Before you visit your doctor, write down any questions you have for your physician. If you’re noticing symptoms, write down everything you can remember, including the intensity of your symptoms, when they happen, and what you were doing when the symptoms occurred. If you have gastro symptoms, keep a log of your diet. Details can help your doctor evaluate your situation.
  • Take your time. Doctors are busy. However, if you can’t discuss everything you need to in one appointment, don’t be afraid to book a follow-up to make sure you cover everything.
  • Repeat back what you understand. If your doctor shares a diagnosis, possible diagnosis, or recommendation, repeat it back in your own words to verify you understand. Jot down the information or ask the doctor to write down any complex words (such as the names of medical conditions or medications) to make sure you get them right. Writing it down ensures you understand your doctor’s diagnosis and ideas.
  • Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify an idea. That’s what your doctor is there for.
  • Get a second opinion. If you’re being diagnosed with a serious condition or if you may have a serious condition, it’s reasonable to ask for a second opinion.
  • Consider bringing a trusted friend. A friend or family member can take notes for you and offer moral support. This can be especially useful if you get anxious visiting the doctor or need support because of mobility challenges.

While there are things you can do to improve communication, it is ultimately your doctor’s responsibility to listen to you, to ask the right questions, and to work towards an accurate diagnosis. If your doctor is negligent and you’re harmed as a result, you may have a medical malpractice claim. You may be eligible to seek financial recovery for your medical bills, lost income, and other losses.

If you’ve had a bad medical outcome or have been misdiagnosed, call Flaxman Law Group at 866-352-9626 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a medical malpractice attorney. Or contact us online to set up your consultation.

Our legal team has more than 60 years of combined experience. We can work with you to determine whether you may have a claim. We also work closely with patients who have been injured. In fact, we’ve recovered over $100 million on behalf of injured patients and injured Florida residents. If you’re injured, our offices in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood are here to serve you.

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I had a lawyer on another case and I never spoke to the lawyer and I hated that I never knew what was going on in my case. Mr. Flaxman was in constant communication with me, explained everything to me, and his staff was really great too. My phone calls were always returned immediately. It was refreshing to be able to speak to my attorney personally. I would HIGHLY recommend Mr. Flaxman as an attorney to anyone who has been in an accident. Gloria
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