A study published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety states that approximately 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care in the U.S. are misdiagnosed. That’s 1 in every 20 adults at risk for serious harm and even death. That’s why it’s best to arm yourself with information to protect you and your family. Here are 5 things you can do to avoid a misdiagnosis:
1.) Keep a list of your family’s medical history and remind your doctor of it. In 2012, the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit group, surveyed 13,575 doctors across the United States and found that nearly 40 percent see 11 to 20 patients per day and more than 26 percent see 21 to 30 a day. That means your doctor is seeing thousands of patients every year. You can’t expect him or her to remember your family’s history. Remind your doctor of this history every time you come in to be safe.
2.) Write down your symptoms and conduct your own research online before your appointment. Keep a notebook of every possible diagnosis. When you visit your doctor, let him or her know your list of symptoms, but don’t share what you found online. You want your doctor to be able to make a conclusion based on his or her own knowledge. Then you can use their info to compare with what you found.
3.) Ask questions. Even though your doctor is running a tight schedule, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The most important question we recommend you ask is: could it be anything else? This will encourage your doctor to stop, take a step back, and think about your case in a way that could save your life. Once your doctor lists possible diagnoses, this is when you can mention what you found online.
4.) Don’t always trust the tests. Tests and technology are often reliant on humans in some way. This means they are susceptible to errors, too. That’s why it’s important to take the same tests or different tests with multiple doctors. It’s an added expense, but when it’s a serious issue that could be a matter or life or death, it’s worth it.
5.) Get a second opinion. We mentioned it in the above when getting tests, but this is true in the initial diagnosis, as well. Getting a second, third, and even a fourth opinion is the best way to make an educated decision in the interest of your health.
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