Patients visit medical professionals to get medical help and advice. Unfortunately, when medical professionals are negligent and reckless, misdiagnosis can occur. Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor incorrectly determines a disease or a lack of disease. For example, misdiagnosis can occur when a doctor fails to find a cancer that is in a patient’s body. Misdiagnosis can also occur when a physician tells a patient they have one condition when in fact the patient is suffering from another condition.
Misdiagnosis can be devastating. If a physician misses a cancer present, for example, a patient can die because life-saving treatment is delayed. If a patient is misdiagnosed with cancer when no disease is present, the patient may suffer from many personal injuries and health problems while undergoing radical treatments. Getting the wrong treatment or medicine can make health problems much worse.
Responsible physicians want to give patients the best care possible and want to give the correct diagnosis each time. There are many things that patients can do to help their doctors avoid misdiagnosis:
1) Do not ignore your symptoms. If you notice that you have unusual symptoms, write them all down in a journal for a day or two. Jot down when the symptoms occur and what is happening when they occur. Note the exact location, duration, and severity of each symptom and be sure to list all possible symptoms. This journal can help your doctor help you get diagnosed correctly. Avoid diagnosing yourself. A physician is trained to diagnose different illnesses that have very similar symptoms. Write down your symptoms and then see a physician.
2) If you are diagnosed with something serious, get a second opinion. This will ensure that another doctor agrees with the initial diagnosis and ensures that you have the right treatment plan for your ailment.
3) Consider visiting a specialist. Specialists are trained to focus on a specific area and therefore know more about specific subjects. If your general practitioners diagnoses you with a skin ailment, for example, consider visiting a dermatologist. He or she will have the expertise and experience to determine whether the initial diagnosis is correct and will be better equipped to advise you about treatment options.
4) When discussing new symptoms with a physician, be sure to tell them about existing medical conditions you have and any changes you have made in your lifestyle lately. Sometimes, changes in your life can affect your body in unusual ways. As well, some ailments and their medications have side effects that may influence your symptoms and therefore how you are diagnosed.
5) Educate yourself about your diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed with a condition or ailment, research the condition at your local library. This will help you learn a great deal about the condition and it’s treatment options. It will also inform you, so that if your doctor suggests a treatment or a diagnosis that does not seem to match what you have read you can ask informed questions.