Five Steps to Avoid Being Misdiagnosed
1) Don’t be shy. Be curious, and insistent. Ask your doctor questions about your diagnosis and treatment. Ask things like, “What else could this be?” Keep asking questions every step of the way until you’re satisfied with the answers.
2) Get a second opinion. But don’t show up and tell the next doctor, “I’ve been diagnosed with this type of illness, what do you think?” Instead, focus on telling the doctor all of your symptoms. Don’t guide their thinking toward what the first doctor said you have. As Dr. Jerome Groopman writes in his classic book, “How Doctors Think,” “Telling the story again may help the physician register some clue that was, in fact, said the first time but was overlooked or thought unimportant.”
3) Take the time to get to know your family medical history – and make sure your doctor knows about it. Studies show your family history may tell you more about what kinds of illnesses you may have or are likely to get than even genetic testing. If you search for “My Family Health Portrait” on Google you’ll find a handy online tool from the U.S. Surgeon General to assemble your own family medical history.
4) Take someone with you to doctor’s visits. It’s hard to listen to difficult medical news and pay attention to all the details at the same time. Bring along a friend or family member to remind you of questions you want to ask, and to help you write down important notes.
5) Have your pathology re-checked. If you had a biopsy and your diagnosis is based on your pathology report, try to get it reviewed again. Pathology is incorrectly interpreted more often than commonly thought. If that interpretation is wrong, your diagnosis – and your treatment – are probably going to be wrong, too.
Source: Best Doctors
Misdiagnosis Study Results:
· Even doctors are not immune to misdiagnosis: According to The New England Journal of Medicine, 35% of doctors have reported errors in their own care of that of a family member.
· The American Journal of Medicine reported that at least 15% of all medical cases in developed countries are misdiagnosed.
· 28% of diagnostic errors come from cognitive error, while 46% result from both cognitive and system-related factors. (source: Diagnostic Error in Internal Medicine)
· A study of 100 autopsies found 26 of 100 patients who died in the hospital had been misdiagnosed. Same study also found “The number of missed major diagnoses remains high, and despite the introduction of more modern diagnostic techniques and of intensive and invasive monitoring, the number of missed major diagnoses has not essentially changed over the past 20 to 30 years.” (source: Roosen J, Frans E, Wilmer A, et al. Comparison of premortem clinical diagnoses in critically ill patients and subsequent autopsy findings. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2000; 75:562-567.)
· Review of pathology resulted in changes in interpretation in 29% of breast cancer cases, while in 34% of cases, a change in surgical management was recommended. A second evaluation of patients referred to a multidisciplinary tumor board led to changes in the recommendations for surgical management in 77 of 149 of those patients studied (52%) (source: Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center; «Changes in surgical management resulting from case review at a breast cancer multidisciplinary tumor board.»)
· Nearly one-third of the $2.7 trillion spent each year on health care in the U.S. are considered to be wasted dollars, according to the landmark report “Diagnostic Errors: The Next Frontier for Patient Safety,” the bulk of which are tied to misdiagnosis.