Whenever an Illinois resident goes to a medical practitioner, he or she expects that the doctor or surgeon knows how to diagnose health problems or send the patient to someone who knows more about the problem. Sometimes a specific complaint will require a doctor to conduct a procedure that is selected on the basis of symptoms presented by the patient. A doctor also might prescribe medications to address a problem. Whatever the process, the practitioner’s knowledge and expertise are tested in several ways.
For the average patient, one assumption often underlies every office visit: The doctor knows best. Each conclusion a doctor reaches, however, is drawn from observing the patient and listening to his or her descriptions of a problem. As with most human interactions, some symptoms or reactions may not be noticed by either the patient or the physician. This can mean a disease is not diagnosed correctly or adequately and the right therapy is not chosen. Unfortunately, a failure to diagnose or a prescription for the wrong therapy can be just as serious as a surgical error when it comes to worsening a patient’s condition.
Until the last two decades, medical knowledge was primarily limited to practitioners who made diagnoses and worked to find cures or solutions. Today, though, any patient can consult any number of resources, including online articles and opinions about various procedures and advances in medical science. These and the experience of other patients with similar complaints can lead patients to understand that they have been victims of medical negligence.
Anyone who has consulted a doctor can look up information about a condition or diagnosis and solicit a second opinion. This will help ensure that they will receive the most accurate medical information and optimal medical care, which is the duty of every medical practitioner to provide. Such information also can be useful in understanding what kind of legal compensation might be available to patients who have suffered genuine medical errors from physician negligence.