7 Ways to Prevent a Misdiagnosis
Imagine this: a patient came for their checkup because they were sick or hurt. In an ideal scenario, you or your team would diagnose their medical condition immediately and vigilantly. However, that’s not always the case. There can be instances where you didn’t communicate with the patient enough to find out the symptoms they were experiencing, or your team wasn’t efficient enough to produce a correct diagnosis. As a result of diagnosing a medical condition incorrectly, it might lead your patients to misunderstand their situation, making the illness worse.
In addition, misdiagnosing patients’ health conditions results in the patients receiving the wrong medication. And this may lead the patients to face all the adverse effects of the medicine without any benefits, causing unwanted stress and anxiety. In worst-case scenarios, a patient’s current health problems can worsen to chronic issues due to your misdiagnosis. Furthermore, it can damage your reputation as an irresponsible healthcare professional alongside damaging the facility’s image.
So, how can you prevent misdiagnosing your patients? Take a look at these simple ways to avoid diagnosing a health condition incorrectly.
Well-trained and efficient workers
Let’s understand this point with the example of paramedics. Paramedics are crucial in the medical sector as they serve as the first responders to any emergency. As a medical provider, you need to ensure the paramedics who provide ambulatory care and medical assistance to patients are well-trained in producing an accurate diagnosis.
Paramedic’s primary duty is to save the life of patients, making it indispensable for them to be efficient. Competent and experienced paramedics will utilize qualities like critical thinking skills, emotional intelligence, and fast response, ensuring the proper diagnosis.
Encourage communication amongst patients and staff
As a medical provider, you want to give your patients optimal care. However, this isn’t attainable if your facility has poor communication and mismanaged coordination lines. Miscommunication can result in various ways among all stakeholders, such as staff-to-patient or staff-to-staff, and is usually the consequence of discomfort. As a result, mistakes and errors go unnoticed when patients feel uncomfortable talking or asking questions, resulting in a wrong diagnosis. Hence, as a medical professional, you need to overcome the problem of thoughtless obedience by encouraging questions and open communication.
Effective communication with patients helps you and your team build a rapport with patients and seek crucial health information. Honest communication between patients and staff paves the way for correct diagnoses and treatment decisions, preventing chances of misdiagnosing health conditions.
But how can you encourage such communication? If a patient thinks that their health problem has reached past the doctor’s diagnosis, give them the chance to ask questions and express their worries. Besides that, if a nurse is worried about a diagnosis, give them time to double-check with others.
One of the most excellent ways to prevent the misdiagnosis and create a sense of accountability is through staff and patient evaluations. Nonetheless, the evaluation process is often considered silly or a waste of time. Hence, as a medical provider, step in and create an evaluation climate.
Encourage and remind your patients and staff that evaluation is a time to be taken stringently. For instance, ask patients about support instead of asking them for comments. Consider asking them, ‘how can you think we can improve your next visit?’ helping you prevent misdiagnoses.
Implement new technologies
New tech advancements play a significant role in allowing more straightforward diagnosis and smoother treatment. As a medical provider, leveraging new technologies and encouraging staff members to utilize them is critical to steer clear of misdiagnosis. For instance, advances in artificial intelligence and real-time data produced by patients using smartphones and wearable tech improve the ability to diagnose and treat patients.
Moreover, digital imaging tech enables a multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT). It uses computers and x-rays and creates clear 3D images, allowing healthcare professionals to evaluate the entire area and avoid misdiagnosis. Besides, many EHRs consist of computerized manual order entry, allowing you to order prescriptions and test digitally. As a result, it enables you to decrease misdiagnosis from fake or unreadable hand-written prescriptions.
Recording everything, which is vital in the medical sector, is incredibly essential to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Medical providers who fail to produce documentation even for minor procedures can create confusion, resulting in misdiagnosis.
Hence, make a habit of recording everything you can. Include every contact with your patient and their family. Besides that, ensure that all chart entries are precise and don’t change the chart frequently. Even if you want to make changes, you can add late documents and explain why the note is delayed or clarify why you’re making changes. Also, ensure your patients’ medical records consist of all facts, observations, and your analysis, helping you make an impeccable diagnosis.
Create a patient-first environment
It’s logical for any clinic, facility, or hospital to be a patient-first organization. Yet, many patients view doctor visits as stress-inducing. It might be because patients don’t share a good bond with their care providers. As a result, they will likely stay quiet, thinking their doctors are highly intelligent and don’t appreciate interventions. So, as a medical provider, you must ensure a good patient-doctor relationship for effective diagnosis and treatment.
Eliciting responses from patients is crucial to attaining a friendly environment. Encouraging a patient-first environment allows patients to participate in their healthcare journey actively. As a healthcare worker, when you give your patients the confidence to speak, they will likely explain their concerns better.
To create a patient-first culture, you should:
- Instead of interrupting your patients, let them finish talking
- Paraphrase and recap to ensure you understand what the patients have said
- Ask clear questions before moving ahead
Motivate Patients to unearth their medical history
Medical history plays a substantial role in the diagnosis. Still, some patients have a restricted understanding of their health history, resulting in misdiagnosis. This shortcoming was understandable in the past due to excessive documents sent to and from various clinics. However, with electronic health records, patients’ health information is readily available.
So, encourage your patients to view the records and refer to them while talking to you, helping diagnose their medical condition better. Besides accurate diagnosis, patient history can help you and your team create a plan that promotes their health and warns them about potential risks.
Misdiagnosing a patient’s health can worsen their illness, leaving them stressed and confused. However, with the ways mentioned above, you can avoid producing an inaccurate diagnosis and provide your patients with the best care and experience. So, ensure to communicate with your patients and ask questions about their health. Besides that, boost communication lines in the facility and leverage new technology to prevent misdiagnosis.