Literatus: Medical errors during diagnosis


LAST week, this column introduced to you the realities of medical errors in the country.

Many of these medical errors have not been well-documented, have failed to make research interest and have failed to reach publication, at least in Philippine medical journals, including nursing journals. Of course, we have a strong limitation on the number of published peer-reviewed journals in the country. That adds to the lack of public awareness public health problem.

Consequently, as a means to inform the readers on how to detect instances of medical errors in their personal quest for clinical care, a list of medical errors, as identified by the United States Institute of Medicine (IOM), is briefly discussed today. The IOM categorized these errors into five major groups: diagnostic, treatment, preventive and other errors.

This week, we will focus on medical errors associated with the diagnosis of your diseases. When you seek the help of the doctor, you have the right to expect that the doctor can properly diagnose your condition. Otherwise, you should be referred to someone who knows better.

There are five identified errors associated with patient diagnosis. However, we compressed these errors into three major groups.

First, if your physician makes a mistake in diagnosing your condition, that constitutes a medical error. Even if the doctor did make the correct diagnosis but did so very late in the progression of your disease, that also constitutes a medical error. Physicians are expected to make the correct diagnosis of your disease at the earliest reasonable time.

The second diagnostic error involves the failure of the doctor to use the accepted tests to diagnose your condition. That includes ordering fewer tests than necessary, ordering more tests than necessary, and ordering the wrong tests. That also includes the use of outmoded tests to diagnose your disease.

The third major diagnostic error is the failure of the doctor to act properly on the results provided in the laboratory and other tests conducted. That includes the failure to monitor the trends, series of tests created.

You can keep these diagnostic errors in mind during your next appointment with your physician. That is for your own good. It is better to know what is going on than be surprised that your condition got worse after your treatment.

Remember that being an educated patient is far better than staying an ignorant patient.


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