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Experts claim medical malpractice effected by patient likeability

Patients who have ever wondered if their likeability affects their doctors' abilities to render accurate diagnoses now have an answer -- yes. The more difficult a doctor perceives a patient to be, the less likely he or she is to render an accurate diagnosis. Misdiagnosing patients can lead to devastating instances of medical malpractice and put victims in California at serious risk for further injuries.

Although it has long been suspected that the accuracy of doctors' diagnoses can be affected by how difficult patients are, a recent study actually provided evidence to back up that belief. Researchers gathered 63 family health doctors and presented each of them with a clinical case scenario. There were six different scenarios in all, each of which had two different versions -- a difficult patient version and an easy patient. Difficult patients were described as demanding and having expectations that the doctors would fail to take them seriously.

During the diagnostic process with these clinical scenarios, difficult patients faced an additional 42 percent likelihood of being misdiagnosed when suffering from complex illnesses. A second study found that correct diagnoses occurred about 20 percent less frequently for all so-called difficult patients. In that study, doctors were also able to recall more of the patients' behaviors rather than their clinical findings.

These findings might be troubling for those in California who tend to be assertive regarding their health and subsequent care. Falling victim to medical malpractice simply because of perceived likeability can have a profoundly negative impact on a person's quality of life. Missed diagnoses often lead to illnesses or diseases progressing further than necessary had patients simply received the correct treatments in timely manners. Nothing can ever truly make up for the lasting pain and injury with which most victims deal, but successfully navigating a medical malpractice suit can result in compensation for medical bills and prolonged suffering.

Source: medicalxpress.com, "'Difficult' patients increase doctors' misdiagnosis risk regardless of case complexity", March 14, 2016

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