A so-called "blind spot" in health care services in Oregon and other states is the misdiagnosis. Shockingly, between 40,000 and 80,000 patients die from a medical misdiagnosis each year. This category is a major component of the statistics showing that medical malpractice is the third largest cause of death in the country.

Despite its prominence as a killer in fatal cases, there are virtually no programs or educational components within the health care system that are addressing the problem with the goal of improving services. There is an organization called the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. Its president and founder is working toward bringing attention to the problem of misdiagnosis.

In general, a misdiagnosis occurs when a physician does not follow the standard protocol that would be observed by his or her peers under similar factual conditions. If the symptoms observed and examined call for a particular diagnostic test, that test must be given. Missing it may be negligence. In addition, it may indicate that the doctor is heading in the wrong direction and could even be setting up the prospects for a future medical malpractice action.

That being said, the dangers of getting an incorrect diagnosis are indeed so costly that it has brought parents and patients into the process of doing their own diagnostic research. One patient safety advocate with Mothers Against Medical Error says that it is incumbent today for patients to do their own research. Thankfully, society sits on the edge of a research revolution that will allow many laypersons to delve into the intricacies of medical research.

With an imperfect system of health care, we are in fact well advised to research the problem ourselves. The patient must keep closely entwined in the direction that the doctors are taking. If something seems out of place, or the physician seems to be leaving out a major chunk of vital information, then research must be intensified to possibly head off a medical malpractice occurrence. In addition, getting a second opinion is becoming more and more a necessity in Oregon and elsewhere in order to stay on top of the diagnostic scramble.  

Source: tucson.com, "Medical misdiagnoses put pressure on patients to stay engaged", Stephanie Innes, Sept. 14, 2016