Visiting the doctor is rarely considered a pleasant experience, but it is a necessary act that Americans are far less likely to do. According to data from the United States Census, the number of average doctor’s visits has declined from 4.8 average visits in 2001 to 3.9 average visits in 2010. Fewer visits can result in injury or death that could have easily been avoided.
Part of the problem lies in the high cost of medical insurance premiums, which can discourage individuals from obtaining insurance in the first place. More individuals are getting insured due to recent legislation that imposes penalties on the uninsured, but the problem doesn’t stop there. Low-quality medical insurance denies coverage of several visits and tests that may be required due to an individual’s medical condition. Furthermore, high deductibles also discourage more frequent medical visits. Deductibles can be problematic for not only the patient but also the doctor.
With less frequent medical visits, it becomes increasingly harder to diagnose a patient’s symptoms accurately. If a pregnant woman is unable to make all of the necessary check-ups, for example, signs of pregnancy complications can be harder to detect. Missing visits can lead to potential injury for both the mom and the child. Additionally, if required tests are not ordered promptly, this can result in a delayed diagnosis which can delay necessary treatment. Delaying treatment is not only inconvenient, but it can also be fatal depending on the severity of the condition.
Studies show that approximately 12 million Americans receive a misdiagnosis each year. A misdiagnosis can lead to severe injuries or even death. Although misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis does not always indicate the presence of medical malpractice, the two can be linked. In cases where an injury-causing misdiagnosis occurs because of a medical provider’s negligence, physicians can be sued for medical malpractice. Individuals can receive compensation for damages including pain and suffering, medical bills, missed wages, and more.