Misdiagnoses, or diagnostic errors, occur when a doctor comes to the wrong conclusion about what is wrong with a patient. According to doctors from Johns Hopkins, “misdiagnosis accounts for an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 hospital deaths per year.” But what can you do to prevent yourself from being injured by a misdiagnosis? Experts in the field of evaluating and studying what goes wrong in the diagnosis of patients provide these useful tips:
- Pay attention and take care of troublesome symptoms before they become bad enough to require a trip to the emergency room. Once an emergency room visit is necessary, and urgent care is needed, the chance of a misdiagnosis and other medical errors increases. Research by Isabel Health Care has shown the prevalence of misdiagnosis in the ER is a result of complex decision-making paired with above average uncertainty and stress.
- Give a complete health summary and medical history to your doctor. Your body reacts differently to some illnesses when you are on certain medications or have certain medical conditions. That’s why it’s important your doctor is made aware of your complete medical history.
- Ask your doctor if there are any alternative diagnoses for your current symptoms.
- Get a second opinion. This ensures that a second doctor agrees with the initial diagnosis and ensures the correct treatment plan.
- Consider seeing a specialist. Specialists focus on specific areas and therefore know more about those specific areas than general practitioners. For example, if you are seeing a general practitioner and he diagnoses you with a sinus problem, consider visiting an ENT. ENT’s are trained specifically for ears, nose, and throat problems and would likely give you a more definitive diagnosis.
- Speak up and research your condition. It’s natural for patients to be nervous when visiting a doctor. The more research you have done, the more comfortable you will feel speaking with your doctor. If you don’t fully communicate how you feel to your doctor the harder it will be for your doctor to make a correct diagnosis.