Individuals should trust their doctors. After all, these medical professionals obtain an extensive amount of education and training in order to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. Yet, even these smart doctors are human, and they make errors. The sad reality is that their mistakes, even when they seem minor in the moment, can have devastating consequences for innocent patients.

In far too many cases, these errors are made during the diagnosis stage of medical treatment. One study found that about 12 million people are affected by diagnostic errors in our country each year. Some experts say that about half of those errors have the potential to be harmful. It is estimated that as many as 80,000 people die each year as a direct result of diagnostic errors.

This is scary on many levels, and completely unacceptable. Several individuals in the field are calling for a more collaborative approach to medical diagnosis, which is hoped to prevent doctors’ errors from going unchecked. Additionally, some people think that medical education needs to change so that doctors are better able to identify cognitive biases that may lead to flaws in reasoning. Doctors also need better training on how to learn from their mistakes so that they don’t make similar ones in the future.

The tragic reality, though, is that these changes have yet to be implemented, and even once they are it will be too late to protect the thousands who have already been hurt by medical malpractice. These victims often have to face very challenging physical, emotional, and financial situations that can leave them fearful of the future. By working closely with a skilled legal professional, these individuals may be able to successfully pursue a medical malpractice claim that results in the recovery of compensation for damages suffered.

In the meantime, if you’re concerned about your medical condition, then you should be sure to ask questions, obtain second or third opinions, and advocate for yourself in the doctor’s office.