Over 12 million people are misdiagnosed every year in the US alone. And millions of such cases end in tragedies. The risk of getting a wrong diagnosis or not getting one at all in time is huge, so you need to do everything possible to make sure that you aren’t one of the victims to this kind of situation. You can start by looking out for signs that indicate your diagnosis might be off.
The treatment isn’t working
The obvious sign of misdiagnosis is the lack of positive progress with the treatment, says Bob Hanscom, who works at Harvard’s Risk Management Foundation. He explains that while one shouldn’t expect to be cured right away, it’s still imperative that you see improvements with acute symptoms.
Unfortunately, according to Hanscom, many patients simply give up at this point, especially if the condition doesn’t interfere with their wellbeing much. For example, regular acid reflux and slight abdominal pains can easily be ignored while one hopes that the treatment will provide improvements in time. However, those “mild” symptoms might point to some serious kidney problems, which can turn deadly if untreated.
John Elliott Leighton, who has been a malpractice lawyer in Miami for years, says that about half of all hospitalizations are a result of medication errors. And it’s not only prescribing a wrong medication that causes problems. Many patients suffer because they are given too much of some commonly prescribed drugs.
Therefore, you should take your time to research your prescription and learn exactly when and why these medications should be taken, as well as recommended dosages. You should also ask your doctor for details about your meds as their answer, or lack thereof, might also be a sign that they aren’t sure about the diagnosis.
Also, you need to understand that everyone reacts to medications differently. Your doctor must monitor how they affect you exactly and make corrections to your prescription based on this.
The absence of tests or exams
While it’s true that some conditions are rather easy to diagnose, every doctor should conduct some basic tests and examinations regardless. If they appear to pull your diagnosis “out of nowhere”, you should get suspicious. At the very least, tests are necessary to corroborate the diagnosis and understand the severity of the condition.
You should do some preliminary research on the basic tests so you know what to expect during your first visit to the doctor.
How to Protect Yourself From Being Misdiagnosed
An experienced physician and health strategist Sharon Denise Allison-Ottey says that to reduce the risk of misdiagnosis the patient should come to their appointment with all relevant paperwork prepared as you would only get under 25 minutes with the doctor. Fill out the new patient forms and make sure your family health records are up to date.
Also, prepare any information you have about your condition. Make a detailed list of symptoms beforehand so you don’t miss anything. The stress of visiting a doctor’s office makes it easy to forget some small details. However, without those, the doctor won’t be able to form a complete picture of your condition.
Therefore, the key to reducing the risk of misdiagnosis is to make sure you provide your doctor with as much information as possible regarding your condition. In the meantime, you also need to make sure that your physician is a reliable and highly-qualified professional.
Be sure to research your insurance coverage and every healthcare professional you can contact under it. Look up testimonials from other patients online as well as search for information about the doctor’s professional accomplishments. You should always choose healthcare professionals with great care, regardless of how simple your situation seems. Your life might literally depend on this decision.