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How the healthcare system may cause harm - Part I

Many in Queens may frequently hear how the American healthcare system is the finest in the world. While that may be true in many regards, it should not be classified as perfect. In fact, recent studies seem to show that inherent flaws with healthcare system may actually be contributing to patient fatalities.

Johns Hopkins research data shared by the AARP Bulletin shows that healthcare errors contribute to over 250,000 deaths annually in the U.S. In many cases, those fatalities may be the result of patient care philosophies based more on human tendencies rather than empirical evidence.

    This may be particularly true when it comes to misdiagnoses. Oftentimes these errors may actually be due to avoidable mistakes, such as:

    • Poor communication: Breakdowns in the passage of information between clinicians as well as with a patient's family can often result in misinterpretations of his or her actual ailment.
    • Gender biases: Often, providers make the mistake of thinking a certain condition is only prevalent in a particular sex. An example would be cases of heart disease in women, which many believe to be primarily a man's disease. Information shared by the American Heart Association, however, shows that females accounted for 51 percent of all heart disease-related fatalities in 2011.
    • Patient trends: Doctors may often rely too heavily on what they've seen recently when making a diagnosis. Terms like "this has been going around lately" or "we've seen others with these symptoms" may be indicators that a provider is simply trying to link a case to others.

    Being actively involved in their care may help patients to avoid misdiagnoses. Asking for clarification on a diagnosis or to review their own test results may provide them with the information needed to determine whether a doctor may be off in his or her reasoning. 

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