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12 Tips to Prevent Misdiagnosis; Increase Understanding for Best Health Outcomes
A misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional inaccurately comes to a conclusion about what is wrong with the patient. About one in twenty in-patient hospital deaths are attributed to misdiagnosed illness. In or outside of the hospital, about one in six of us throughout our life time, will be subjected to a misdiagnosis by a medical professional.
Why Misdiagnosis Occurs
There are several reasons misdiagnoses can occur. They include the following:
- "Premature closure"--a failure on the part of the medical professional to consider all possible diagnoses.
- Specialists see only their specialty and not the whole patient.
- When lab test results are not ordered or test results are not followed up on.
- When patients see several different health care providers who do not communicate with one another.
- When patients do not provide a complete health summary and medical history.
- Poor communication between doctors/their staff and patients.
12 Tips To Help Prevent Misdiagnoses
- Come prepared to the doctor visit with a health summary, copies of pertinent medical records, list of medications and their dosages, over-the counter medications, herbs and supplements, allergies to medications and more. Be prepared to present a packet of information to each and every doctor you see. This also prevents the problem of misplaced, lost or inaccurate medical records.
- Come prepared with a list of questions.
- Ask for a diagnosis from your doctor. Ask why it is suspected.
- Ask your doctor if there are any other possible diagnoses for what you have.
- Enlist a family member or good friend to be your advocate. (S)he will be your second set of eyes and ears. Ask her/him to take notes on conversations with physicians, whether you are in a doctor's office or in the hospital.
- Create a list of all your symptoms. If you are in the hospital, ask your advocate to help you with this. Record the time of day your symptoms occur and what makes them better or worse. List what you have tried to make the symptoms better.
- Follow up on your test results. If you are in the hospital or seeing a medical professional in an office, ask for your test results and for a copy. If a copy isn't available at that time, ask your advocate to write down what the results mean.
- Research your condition or diagnostic tests online and/or at your local library. If you are in the hospital, ask your advocate to do this for you. Your hospital may have a library with information.
- Research your diagnosis. If you are uncertain about it, create a list of questions and make a time to talk to your doctor.
- Get a second opinion. If you are unconvinced about the diagnosis you are given or simply are not getting better, find another doctor to give you a second opinion, preferably one who is board certified in her specialty, and who is affiliated with a respected medical school.
- Ask for lab tests to be repeated. Doctors can make mistakes, as can radiologists, pathologists or other lab technicians.
- Speak up. Ask questions. Be assertive. Many of us are nervous or anxious when talking with our doctors or other medical professionals.
Remember that you know your body best, and the more information you gather and contribute, the more confident you will feel.
I'm an author, patient advocate and speaker. My new book, The Take-Charge Patient: How You Can Get The Best Medical Care, was released 5/2012 www.TheTakeChargePatient.com I lecture, write and publish articles on the issues of patient safety, patient advocacy, the collaborative relationship between patients and medical professionals, effective communication strategies to interact with medical professionals and other health/medical related issues. I hope you benefit and enjoy my being part of things at Lumigrate as much as I do! Also, I am a member of: -HHS, Partnership for Patients -The Society of Participatory Medicine -The National Patient Advocate Foundation -National Healthcare Advocacy Consultants
This forum is provided to allow members of Lumigrate to share information and ideas. Any recommendations made by forum members regarding medical treatments, medications, or procedures are not endorsed by Lumigrate or practitioners who serve as Lumigrate's medical experts.