If you had to guess, what do you think is the most common mistake doctors make? If you said prescribing the wrong medication, operating on the wrong patient or making a mistake during an operation, you’d be wrong. It’s actually what happens before any of those things take place. Twelve million Americans are misdiagnosed every year resulting in a litany of problems from financial hardships to serious injury and even death.
It can happen to anyone. In May 2011, billionaire Teddy Fortsmann found out he was misdiagnosed for more than a year with various illnesses including meningitis when what he really had was brain cancer. He died November 2011. This shocked many. ABC News even reported, ““How could such a misfortune befall a billionaire – a man able to afford the best doctors, best technology and the most sophisticated diagnostic tests?” The harsh truth of it is: no one is safe from misdiagnosis. However, there are 4 steps you can take to lessen the likelihood of it happening to you.
1.) Take plenty of notes. Write down all of your symptoms, your family history, and medication. If you can, keep a journal listing dates and times to track symptoms and medication. The more detailed you are, the better your doctor can form an educated guess as to what your diagnosis is. Once diagnosed, do not stop tracking how you feel and the medication you’re taking daily. There have been cases where a misdiagnosis and taking the wrong medication have affected patients right away. These notes will be helpful if any problems arise.
2.) Do your own research. Before you visit your doctor, take your list of symptoms and medical history and educate yourself. By making a list of all possible diagnoses that relate to your symptoms, you’ll be able to communicate more intelligently and come up with a list of questions for your doctor.
3.) Ask questions. When it comes to your health, you can never ask too many questions and there’s one important question I suggest you ask: what else could it be? Don’t worry about insulting your doctor; this is a fair question! A good doctor will list off a few other things it could be. Based on your research, you may or may not have these things on your list. If they’re not on there, add them to your list. Then ask your doctor why he or she ruled those possibilities out. Make a note of everything your doctor said. Again, you want to keep really good notes throughout all of this. If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask. Be concise and stay focused. Your doctor only schedules about 15 minutes with each patient. If you start to ramble, your doctor won’t stay engaged.
4.) Get a second opinion – and a third – and even a fourth if you need to. The most important part? Start from scratch. Share with the doctor the same things you did with the previous one: your symptoms, medical history, family history, and medication. You want this doctor to make a conclusion free from the first doctor’s bias. If he or she comes to the same conclusion, this could be your true diagnosis. If he or she comes to a different conclusion, add it to the list. It’s important to still ask the one crucial question: what else could it be and why did he or she rule that out. After seeing a few different doctors, you should find a diagnosis you can trust.
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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.