What happens when your doctor doesn’t listen to you?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2019 | failure to diagnose

You know your own body better than anyone else ever could. You live with it 24/7. While you may not have an intimate understanding of the various biological processes that keep you alive, you know what is normal for you and what is not.

Unfortunately, medicine is, in many ways, a study of averages. Doctors spend a long time learning about the most common causes of various symptoms, but they also learn extreme and rare causes of them as well. Proper diagnosis involves taking the time to determine the exact symptoms and then ruling out certain causes until you only have one potential reason for the patient’s issues.

Too many doctors jump to conclusions when attempting to diagnose patients. They may outright refuse to listen to their patients, even as those individuals attempt to assert themselves and explain what symptoms they have experienced.

The stress of the job affects how attentive your doctor is

Most doctors work in a corporate practice or hospital, which means they are not their own bosses like they were in decades past. They must answer to hospital administrators who focus more on the bottom line than on the standard of patient care.

Doctors have to see a certain number of patients a day for the practice or hospital to make adequate money. They may also get pressure from administrators to focus on certain diagnostic tools, such as expensive imaging tests. Instead of listening to their patients, they will often develop their own idea before they are even fully familiar with the situation.

Doctors aren’t spending enough time listening

The average doctor listens to a patient for only 11 seconds during the brief time that you share together in your appointment. If you thought it was frustrating that you only get three minutes with your doctor, how much more frustrating is it that they only spend a fraction of that time listening to you?

When your doctor doesn’t listen to you, they make assumptions based on what they know about the average person. Those assumptions may not accurately relate to your body and your experience. Doctors failing to take to heart the concerns of patients can result in those patients going undiagnosed or incorrectly diagnosed.

An inaccurate or delayed diagnosis can impact your well-being

You wouldn’t go to the doctor about a symptom if you weren’t concerned about it or if it didn’t have an impact on your life. Getting brushed off and not receiving a proper diagnosis means you will have to deal with the symptom for that much longer.

Even more concerning is the potential for a severe illness to progress to a more dangerous stage. When doctors don’t accurately and quickly diagnose conditions like lung cancer, the problem could go from treatable to untreatable in the time it takes to correct the initial medical mistake.

If you are dealing with the consequences of a faulty or failed diagnosis or if you lost your loved one because the doctor didn’t listen, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice suit. Sitting down to talk with an experienced attorney is a good way to determine what options you have.


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