Unexpected and possibly urgent medical situations are scary enough without having to worry about a misdiagnosis.
The unfortunate truth is that misdiagnoses are relatively common: about 12 million people are misdiagnosed every year, about 5% of adult outpatients, so this isn’t even a vanishingly rare thing.
For problems more serious and mysterious than a first aid kit can handle, here’s what to do if you have reason to feel that you or your children are being misdiagnosed.
Tip 1): It’s Okay to Trust Your Instincts
If you don’t feel your doctor is really listening to you, or you have reason to believe they simply aren’t seeing the whole truth, it’s entirely reasonable to trust your instincts.
Remember, doctors are fallible human beings like the rest of us: they get distracted, get overworked, have too many things pulling at their attention sometimes, and so on.
While it’s probably a good idea to defer to doctors up to a certain point, when you have reason to believe the doctor is simply wrong about something, don’t be shy about pressing a point.
Tip 2): Find Out if Your Doctor Has Been Sued
It’s worth remembering that not only are doctors fallible human beings who make mistakes, some of those mistakes are very costly and lead to lawsuits – and lawsuits tend to leave paper trails you can find.
In fact, the possibility of a lawsuit is very real for most doctors, and if you go to your state’s medical board you can probably find out if your doctor has been sued, free of charge.
While the precise information available will vary depending on what state you are living in, at a bare minimum you can expect to find out if your doctor has any misdemeanor or felony convictions. You should also be able to find out about any malpractice suits they lost.
Bear in mind, finding out your doctor has a record does not automatically mean they misdiagnosed you. However, it is certainly an important red flag if you already have concerns.
Tip 3): Focus on the Symptoms
If you feel misdiagnosed, one possibility is that you haven’t described the symptoms adequately. To be sure, sometimes a misdiagnosis will be the result of genuine negligence, but it’s also possible that with more information, your doctor will revise your diagnosis.
Before you go in to see your doctor, take the time to come up with a vivid, detailed description of your symptoms. Focus on what your symptoms are, and avoid self-diagnoses.
Whether you’re in the physician’s office or back at home after, if you have reason to believe you’ve been misdiagnosed, focusing on your symptoms and providing a fuller explanation of them can help physicians to see errors in their thinking and analysis. This could lead to a better and more accurate diagnosis for you or your loved one.
Tip 4): Be Comprehensive
There’s a tendency for some patients to omit details and symptoms that they don’t think are relevant or meaningful, only for those details and those symptoms to turn out to be quite meaningful to a trained physician.
Don’t worry about providing too much information, or focusing on something irrelevant. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about sensitive subjects, including substances, mental health, and sexuality. The more information your doctor has, the less likely they will persist in a misdiagnosis.
Tip 5): Get a Second Opinion
There may well be situations in which you’ll try to provide the doctor with all of the information, and they’ll still insist on a diagnosis that feels wrong or somehow off to you. When this happens, don’t be shy about going and getting a second opinion – and if need be, a third and a fourth opinion.
At the end of the day, the reality is that doctors can be mistaken, and you know what your symptoms are – or those of your child – better than they do. It’s entirely possible that your doctor could simply be mistaken: medicine is a tricky business, and not every condition manifests in a way such that it can be clearly and immediately recognized for what it is.
Tip 6): Hire an Improper Diagnosis Attorney
There are some cases in which an improper diagnosis can result in great harm, and in those cases, it may be not only possible but greatly desirable to seek compensation for an improper diagnosis.
Hiring an attorney is an absolute imperative for an improper diagnosis case. As Hankey Law Office explains, most of these cases will involve a great many parties, and it will be necessary to establish that the methods of care used were negligent rather than entirely appropriate.
To best protect yourself or your loved one, get legal counsel if you’re in this situation.