When doctors make mistakes, patients sometimes assume they weren't good enough at their jobs or didn't care enough to do well. This is not always the case. Studies have repeatedly shown that even good doctors will make mistakes from time to time.
In some cases, the doctors are simply rushed. Stats show that the average visit to the doctor is just barely over 20 minutes. That's not very long to meet someone, learn about his or her symptoms, ask questions, and make a diagnosis. A doctor who is behind schedule and in a rush may be even more prone to mistakes.
Lab mistakes can also get passed on to doctors. BMJ Quality and Safety carried out a study and found that these errors contributed to mistakes in at least 2 percent of cases, and perhaps as high as 4 percent. Doctors trust labs with blood work and other details, and getting the wrong info from the lab can cause them to take the wrong next steps.
Some experts also warn that doctors will get stuck in a "cognitive trap" of only going with their first instinct. For instance, based on the initial talk with the patient, the doctor may think he or she is suffering from acid reflux. In reality, the patient has a heart problem. However, the doctor is stuck thinking about acid reflux and ties all of the symptoms together with this narrow mindset, rather than coming to it with an open mind and really looking at what the rest of the symptoms suggest.
These are just a few reasons that well-meaning, well-educated doctors make mistakes, but it's important both to know that it happens and what rights you may have to compensation.
Source: Consumer Reports, "Mistakes even good doctors make," accessed Nov. 15, 2016