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Combining good medical care with self advocacy

More than 70 percent of patients place complete faith in their doctor and never seek a second opinion. But according to a recent study in Health Affairs, 11 percent of doctors lied to their patients last year, and 50 percent have not fully divulged the seriousness of a diagnosis. Approximately one-third of doctors do not find it important to disclose medical mistakes to their patients.

Even the most trustworthy doctors can make mistakes under the current medical system. General practitioners are seeing an increasing number of patients on a daily basis. Many are seeing approximately 20 patients per day. This increase in patient numbers can lead to shorter time being spent with the doctor, less thorough exams and an increase in mistakes.

Patients can protect themselves by looking out for several warning signs. One sign is a physician who is overly eager to offer a prescription every time a patient enters the office. The American Journal of Medicine shows that prescriptions for antibiotics increased 39 percent from 1999 to 2009. Many may have been unnecessary. For example, the American Journal of Public Health reports that the incidence of insomnia has not kept pace with the number of related prescriptions.

Another concern is a doctor working under extreme fatigue. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that a surgeon with less than six hours of sleep prior to performing a medical procedure is twice as likely to make a surgical error.

Some also believe that doctors are biased when treating women. A doctor may be more likely to dismiss women's symptoms without investigating further, saying that it is normal for them to feel a certain way. Men, however, may receive different treatment for the same symptoms.

Statistics like these show why it is so important for patients to advocate for their own health and discuss every aspect of their diagnoses and treatments with their doctors. And if patients have been the victims of medical malpractice, they should hold their health care professionals responsible and receive compensation for their injuries through medical malpractice lawsuits.

Source: MSN.com, "Doctors behaving badly: 7 types to watch out for," Kristin Dold, June 3, 2012

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