Physicians, nurses, and other providers cause health care errors when they don't listen to patients

Psychologists have described an interesting concept known as fundamental belief perseverance.

It stands for the proposition that when people form a belief, they look for and latch onto evidence consistent with it. More surprisingly, though, even contradictory evidence tends to strengthen their original belief.

For trial lawyers, this makes opening statement exceedingly important. We want to make available all necessary information for jurors to form an initial belief about the case.

For physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare providers, though, the stakes are even higher. For health care professionals, failing to keep fundamental belief perseverance in check can mean the difference between pursuing a correct course of diagnosis and treatment instead of medical errors and patient injuries.

I recently read a physician’s description of this phenomenon as egocentric listening. He described it as listening to someone solely for what you want to hear.

Here at Painter Law Firm, we represented a lot of clients who’ve experienced this problem firsthand. In addition to the danger factor, this can be frustrating because patients know their own bodies better than any physician or provider.

We’ve handled several stroke cases where patients and family members recognized the well-known symptoms of stroke—things such as slurred speech and one-sided facial droop and weakness. Yet, emergency room (ER) doctors and neurologists rushed to the wrong conclusion of migraine headache, sending them home to suffer devastating injuries.

In another case, our client had a history of bowel volvulus, or twisted intestines, which required surgical intervention. When she started experiencing identical symptoms several months after her first bout of volvulus, she went to the ER and shared her history, signs, and symptoms. After the initial CT scan was negative, hospitalists managing her care ignored all evidence, insisting she was just having severe constipation. She ended up requiring surgery to remove a significant segment of her bowels.

If you find yourself in the situation, consider asking for a second opinion. Ask for a new nurse who’s untainted by fundamental belief perseverance and request advocacy for appropriate medical care. Or ask for a second medical opinion. If you can get a physician who will actively listen to you as a patient, rather than focusing on the computer screen, you may break through the mental fog in get the help that you need.

If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor medical or hospital care in Texas, then contact a top-rated experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer for a free consultation about your potential case.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.