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Medical Misdiagnosis Can be Cured by Patient Politeness

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Aside from hearing a serious and frightening diagnosis, it can be argued that patients get most upset about receiving a misdiagnosis. However, there appears to be a cure for minimizing such an occurrence: being nice to the doctor.

According to a Dutch research team’s study published in the British Medical Journal, it’s been determined that the likelihood of a medical misdiagnosis is heightened when a doctor is faced with a “difficult” patient that enthusiastically questions his or her competence.

For the case study, multiple general practitioners were faced with challenging patients who each carried a complex collection of symptoms. Afterward, it was discovered that the likelihood of a misdiagnosis increased by 42% when doctors were faced with these types of patients. That number fell to a paltry 6% when doctors dealt with more levelheaded patients.

“Many clinicians have seen their interest turn into impatience by frequent attenders with vague complaints, repeated interruptions during a consultation, or insistence in requesting unnecessary tests,” said the study’s leader, Dr. Silvia Memede of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam.

She continued: “Most doctors would, however, tend to deny that these feelings influence their judgments… The fact is that difficult patients trigger reactions that may intrude with reasoning, adversely affect judgments and cause errors.”

Ask Dr. Zach - Feature ImageIf you’re interested in more health advice and insights like this, please tune in on Friday afternoons at 3 & 3:30pm ET/Noon & 12:30pm PT (beginning April 8) for back-to-back episodes of our brand new series, Ask Dr. Zach

In each episode of Ask Dr. Zach, people with health concerns related to themselves, or those close to them, are able to receive one-on-one medical expertise from a knowledgeable and caring doctor that has seen it all. No question is too big, no question is too small.

This Week’s Episodes!

Friday, April 8 at 3pm ET/Noon PT: Post-traumatic stress disorder and depression has 44-year-old Lori visiting with Dr. Zach. He gives Lori a very positive prognosis about a disease that will not control or define her.

Friday, April 8 at 3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT: Under anesthetic for an additional 8 hours has 72-year-old Glena concerned about her well being. Dr. Zach examines the possibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit and suggests some helpful tips when undergoing surgery.

-Adam Grant

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