Many of us assume that if we pay for the best doctors and medical care, then we’ll never have to worry about being misdiagnosed or other medical slip-ups. While I see the logic, I’m afraid this simply isn’t true. Misdiagnosis happens more regularly than many people believe. the human body is a very complex machine, and even people who have spent their lives studying it can make mistakes. While it’s often out of your hands, there are certain things you can do to make a misdiagnosis less likely. Here are a few helpful pointers.
First of all, look into your family’s medical history, and make sure your doctors are aware of it. Seen as they’re the professional, it can be easy to assume that your doctor remembers everything you’ve told them about your family’s medical history. You have to remember the sheer amount of patients they see in one day of work. Always double-check that they know any relevant details about the medical history of yourself and your family. Certain studies have shown that a person’s family history can be a better indicator of disease than genetic testing. Before any important appointment, have a look into your family’s medical history and take down a few notes about it. This is especially important when you may be prescribed medication. For example, if you fail to mention a genetic predisposition to addiction, you could end up experiencing some serious Adderall side effects.
Another way to reduce the chances that you’re going to be misdiagnosed is to ask questions. An average doctor sees up to 40 different patients a day, and usually spends quarter of an hour or less with each person. As a result, many of us are far too used to being sent off to a specialist and beginning treatment without getting all the information we wanted. For most of us, the honorific “Dr” connotes genius. You need to remember that they’re just people with expertise in a certain field, and sometimes they need help to think through a problem clearly. Asking questions isn’t just to make you feel a little more comfortable, it will also disrupt a doctor’s thinking and make them think about your particular case in a different light. Though it’s very unlikely, one little query can be enough to avoid a misdiagnosis and save your life. Don’t be afraid of bothering them; your health is more important than good manners! When you’re seeing your doctor, be sure to ask any questions that come into your head.
You also can reduce the chances of a misdiagnosis by taking any medical tech with a pinch of salt. These days, detailed medical information is more accessible than ever. There are countless symptom checkers on the internet you can use to get a rough idea of a condition you may have. Sure, some of them will tell you a migraine means brain cancer, but most are a little more accurate! While this kind of tech can give you a little more insight into what your body’s doing, studies have shown that they’re nowhere near as effective as an experienced doctor with access to your family history. If the choice is between a high-tech test and a doctor who will talk to you about your symptoms, and use more traditional testing methods, then all the research says that you should choose the latter.
Finally, get a second opinion on your diagnosis. If your first doctor diagnoses you with an illness with some serious implications, then it’s important to seek out a second opinion. By this, I mean a totally fresh second opinion. If you come to the second doctor and tell them all about what the first said, then it could influence their conclusions. This way, you may end up with one misdiagnosis re-affirmed by another medical professional, which as you can imagine is even more dangerous! Forget everything about your original diagnosis, and go in for your second just as you did with the first. Tell the doctor about the symptoms that you’re experiencing in your own words, along with your family’s medical history, and any tests which you’ve had. This will help the doctor arrive at their own conclusions about your condition. One tiny detail about your appointment can be the line between two very different conditions. If the second doctor takes the first’s opinion as fact, then you’ll run more of a risk of misdiagnosis.
The next time you’re going to see your doctor, remember this advice. Misdiagnoses can be trivial, but they can also have extreme consequences.