Medical DiagnosisSometimes medical malpractice laws change after just one catastrophic event occurs. For example, the 2012 death of a 12-year-old due to misdiagnosed symptoms lead to the institution of New York's law called Rory's regulations in early 2013. Rory's regulations involve strict protocols intended to prevent another event like this. Laws that are similar to Rory's regulations have been instituted all over the nation; however, according to one medical researcher, more could be coming.

5 Percent of Diagnoses Are Wrong in the United States

This medical researcher says that approximately 5 percent of patients are misdiagnosed in the United States every single year. That means that over 12 million adults get misdiagnosed by their doctors. The researcher worries that the number could be even higher. Fortunately, doctors and lawmakers are taking notice of this pandemic problem and they are trying to do something to prevent it.

For example, the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, runs a conference every year on diagnostic error to help prevent its occurrence. Also, the Institute of Medicine, an influential group that advises Congress, is compiling a massive study on misdiagnosis that will be available in 2015.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Misdiagnosis?

Until new laws are put into place to help prevent misdiagnoses, doctors, patients and insurance companies can do a few things to help curb the problem on their own. The first thing we can do is increase the quality of communication between ourselves and our doctors. Patients must ask their doctors questions about their symptoms and if they suspect error, make sure to inquire about it.

Time is also an important factor. A lot of doctors are pressed for time because they are forced to spend more and more hours filling out insurance paperwork so they can get compensated for their time. If a consultation is rushed, there may not be enough time for him or her to make an appropriate decision. This is an area that insurance companies can help with by streamlining the paperwork process to free up more time for doctors to do what they do best: attend to their patients.

There are quite a few other areas that can be improved upon, when it comes to limiting the chance of doctors' errors. In the meantime, patients who are hurt (or families of patients who are killed) as a result of misdiagnosis, can pursue medical malpractice claims for financial restitution in court, which will also bring more attention to this problematic issue.