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How Knowing Your Family History Can Help Possibly Prevent Misdiagnosis

When it comes to your health, the more information your doctor has, the better. While promptly reporting any symptoms you experience and getting a thorough yearly checkup can aid in the fight against illness and disease, these actions are not always enough to ensure you get a prompt and correct diagnosis.

A complete and accurate family health medical history can often be a valuable tool, providing pertinent information your doctor can use to prevent and treat numerous diseases while avoiding misdiagnosis.

Our Long Island medical malpractice lawyers know that the more educated and informed you are about your health, the better. We have assembled the following information regarding the importance of having an accurate family health history, in the hopes of helping you prevent a delayed or incorrect misdiagnosis and the serious consequences and damages that can result.

What Type of Family Medical Information Could Help with Diagnosis

Knowing your medical history and the diseases and health conditions that run in your family can be an important part of maintaining your own health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your family health history can alert your doctors to any potential risk factors you may face when it comes to contracting an illness or disease. This can make it easier for the doctor to be proactive when it comes to making health recommendations, while avoiding misdiagnosis of medical conditions in their early stages.

Having certain types of medical information could help prevent diseases or failure to diagnose family members at all stages in their lives:

  • During childhood: Information on genetic, hereditary disorders can allow for certain conditions to be diagnosed and treated early in childhood. A complete medical history can alert your doctor on what to look for in your child.
  • During young adulthood: A family medical history of diseases and health conditions such as cancer and heart disease can assist doctors in advising patients on preventative treatments while alerting providers to begin diagnostic tests early.
  • During adulthood: Being aware of certain degenerative diseases that run in your family can guide your doctor in the taking appropriate preventative measures and performing timely medical interventions.
  • Before and during pregnancy: A history of problems in labor and delivery or health conditions in the mother or baby after birth can alert your doctor to potential complications and problems before they occur. Knowing these conditions in advance can assist doctors in advising patients on preventative and preparatory measures to take prior to getting pregnant and after delivery.

To aid in completing your family medical health history, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a Family Health Portrait, which is a tool that can be used to collect and save pertinent health information.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Diseases and Conditions

According to well publicized reports on medical misdiagnosis by BMJ Quality and Safety, a leading journal on healthcare safety, doctors fail to diagnose roughly 5 percent of all patient medical cases. This number translates in more than 12 million patients each year, many of whom suffer serious and potentially fatal consequences as a result of an incorrect, missed, or delayed diagnosis.

In addition to the harm caused by misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose a condition in its early stages can result in dangerous delays in treatments, causing severe repercussions for the patient. According to studies on medical misdiagnosis by the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), some of the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions include the following:

  • Certain types of cancers, including colorectal, breast, and stomach cancers
  • Heart conditions, including heart attacks and congestive heart failure
  • Arterial and vascular diseases
  • Renal failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Anemia and blood diseases
  • Urinary tract infections

In addition to the above, dangerous conditions such as aortic dissection, which affects the major vein carrying blood to the heart, and pulmonary embolism, which results from blood clots in the lungs, involve high rates of failure to diagnose and can result in death for the patient.

Medical Errors Involving Diagnosis, Even When You’ve Provided a Full Family History

Even with a full family medical history, avoiding misdiagnosis of certain conditions is difficult as their symptoms may be hard to detect or may mimic other conditions. According to an MSN report on commonly misdiagnosed conditions, doctors often cite these reasons for failure to diagnose the following health conditions:

  • Thyroid conditions
  • Lyme disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Asthma

While certain health problems may be hard to detect or diagnose, it is up to the doctor or other medical provider to conduct the appropriate testing in order to prevent incorrect, delayed, and missed diagnoses. According to the JAMA study, medical misdiagnosis can occur even with a complete medical history when there is a lack of communication between medical providers, errors in tracking or following up on diagnostic testing, or errors in interpreting test results.

How Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis Could Be the Basis of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Under New York Public Health Laws, doctors and other medical providers have a duty of care in providing competent, appropriate medical care to their patients. Failing to diagnose a medical condition can be considered as negligent, making your provider liable for any damages that occur as a result of your misdiagnosis. Damages you may be entitled to in a medical malpractice claim include the following:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages, as well as future losses of income resulting from your illness
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish

In cases where a patient has died as the result of a medical misdiagnosis, surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim for damages, including funeral expenses and loss of support and companionship. While no amount of money can make up for your health or the death of a loved one, a medical malpractice claim can hold negligent medical providers accountable for their actions, while allowing you to have the resources you need to recover at your disposal.

How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Claim

If you or someone you care about has been hurt as the result of a medical misdiagnosis, contact the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP today. Our experienced Long Island medical malpractice lawyers provide aggressive, effective legal representation to hold negligent medical providers accountable for their actions. We thoroughly investigate your claim, reviewing your medical records and uncovering medical mistakes and misdiagnosis, so that you can get the compensation you need to recover.

We provide professional legal service to ensure your rights are protected, while always looking out for your best interests. Serving Long Island and the surrounding areas, our office can help. Call or contact us online for a free consultation.

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