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The Dangers Of A Missed Medical Diagnosis: How Portland Patients Can Reduce The Risks

Your health is one of your most important assets and any unexplained symptoms you suffer from need to be taken seriously. A missed diagnosis can have major impacts on your life and is a frequent factor in medical malpractice claims in Portland. Find out more about this common problem and how to reduce your risks. 

Is Your Doctor Overlooking Important Symptoms? 

Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), diagnostic errors are frequently to blame. A misdiagnosis is when your doctor attributes symptoms to the wrong medical condition, while a missed diagnosis is when they fail to act on or treat your symptoms at all. 

A missed diagnosis can cause tremendous physical pain and emotional suffering while causing dangerous delays in treatment. The NIH reports that common factors frequently responsible for overlooked symptoms include: 

  • Failure to take a complete medical history;
  • Failing to take enough time for patient visits;
  • Failure to conduct thorough physical exams;
  • Failing to order the appropriate diagnostic tests or follow up on results;
  • Failure to refer patients to specialists as needed.  

As a result of the above, doctors may downplay or completely overlook symptoms of serious medical conditions, such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease. In the long run, a missed diagnosis can result in additional medical costs for patients, as well as long-term disabilities or premature death.    

Reducing Your Risks: How To Protect Yourself Against A Missed Diagnosis

To reduce the risk of a missed diagnosis or other types of medical malpractice in Portland, patients are strongly encouraged to act as their own patient advocates. Northwest Primary Care, which serves residents throughout the area, recommends the following tips: 

  • Come prepared for appointments: Before visiting your doctor, make a list of symptoms you suffer, medications you are taking, underlying health conditions, and other health issues you are being treated for. 
  • Keep copies of your medical records: Request copies of your medical records, including visit summaries and diagnostic test results. You may be able to access these through online patient portals. 
  • Do your own research: Read your medical charts and look up unfamiliar terms. Research medical journals and other authoritative sites to get more information about your symptoms.  
  • Ask questions: Do not allow yourself to be rushed through visits. Clarify concerns and do not hesitate to ask questions about your condition, any recommended treatments, or why your doctor is not taking action. 
  • Get a second opinion: If you have concerns about your doctor or they appear to downplay your symptoms, do not hesitate to get a second opinion. 

Reach Out To Our Portland Medical Malpractice Attorneys 
Medical malpractice is one of the most common but complex types of claims. If you suspect a missed diagnosis, reach out to the Johnston Law Firm. Our Portland medical malpractice attorneys provide the trusted legal guidance you need to protect your health. Call (503) 546-3167 or contact us online and request a consultation today.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.