When you go to the doctor, you expect to find an answer to your complaints. Whether you’ve been experiencing intermittent back pain, have trouble sleeping, or noticed that your skin has been acting strangely, physical symptoms can cause you to experience quite a hefty amount of stress. After all, it can be terrifying not knowing what’s going on with you and whether or not it’s serious. Most of the time, physicians can help. They run tests and give you a full examination so that they can rule out any differential diagnoses. After the cause of your symptoms has been established, you’ll begin your treatment scheme that is set to solve the issue.
However, this isn’t always the case, and sometimes you may receive an incorrect diagnosis. This is problematic for a multitude of reasons, including that your illness won’t get the appropriate treatment, which is likely to worsen your symptoms. Since you’ll likely be prescribed medication for a condition you don’t have, it’s also possible your well-being will decline even further. In extreme cases, you can end up hospitalized and sustain significant health damage. But why does this happen, and what can you do in the event that you become the victim of a misdiagnosis?
How does misdiagnosis occur?
It can seem quite unbelievable that in our day and age, it is still possible that a doctor can identify an illness incorrectly. After all, the healthcare sector is so technologically advanced the screening procedures are very accurate, and lab tests are extremely accurate. Nevertheless, errors can and do happen, much like in any other field of work. The difference lies in the fact that in the medical field, mistakes can be uncomfortable at best and life-threatening at worst. Some of the reasons they still occur include the following:
Understaffing: There are many patients visiting hospitals and clinics daily. Generally speaking, doctors and nurses have a strict time limit they can spend with each one in order to ensure that everyone gets to hear a professional opinion. However, this can also mean that a diagnosis is determined too fast and based on too little evidence. Moreover, some medical professionals may not have an extensive level of experience. As newcomers in the field, it can be difficult to correctly assess what’s wrong with a patient with the same accuracy as a doctor that’s been seeing sick people for two decades.
The large number of patients: Related to the previous factor, understaffing also means that the same doctor must see many patients each day. This often leads to fatigue, which makes it more challenging to determine the correct diagnosis. Physicians also have to be comforting and encouraging with their patients, take the time to explain their conditions as well as the treatment scheme they must follow to get better, and then complete the necessary documentation for each patient. This takes a lot of emotional energy and mental fortitude.
Simple mistakes: Doctors are people as well. As with any job, they’re likely to get something wrong about theirs. It’s important to remember that physicians don’t set out to be careless on purpose, but fallacies and inaccuracies can sneak their way in due to the high demand and busy nature of the job.
How to avoid misdiagnosis
While it’s obviously not entirely up to you as a patient, there are some ways you can ensure you’re more likely to get a correct diagnosis. You can make a list of all your symptoms, including their severity if you’ve noticed that there’s anything that seems to reduce your discomfort, as well as how long you’ve experienced the signs. This way, you ensure that you don’t forget to bring up something important that may change the way your diagnosis is assessed.
Suppose you take any medication, whether prescription, over-the-counter or supplements, you should also inform your physician, as there may be something in them that’s affecting you. Moreover, if you have any chronic condition, such as hypertension or diabetes, omitting to mention it can not only mean that you won’t get a correct diagnosis but also that you might get an incorrect treatment scheme. Medication can clash and cancel each other out, so it’s essential to be upfront.
Dealing with misdiagnosis
If you have reason to believe your misdiagnosis has come as a result of negligence, you are within your rights to start a medical negligence claim in the UK. Solicit the help of a specialized lawyer that can help you navigate this difficult time so you don’t have to trouble yourself with the intricacies of legal proceedings while you’re recovering. The amount you can expect to receive in compensation will depend on the extent of the damage you’ve sustained. If the misdiagnosis has affected your life a great deal and left you unable to work or conduct your regular daily activities, you can expect to receive more as part of the special damages compensation category.
One of the best ways to avoid misdiagnosis is to ask for a second opinion. See another healthcare practitioner if your worries aren’t assuaged after you visit your physician. If they offer the same diagnosis, it’s most likely the correct one. If it’s realistic for you, you can also build your own team of specialists that can help you out. Include internal medicine physicians and mental health professionals so you can support your overall health and well-being over a long period, not just some of the body’s organs and systems.
Don’t fall behind on regular appointments. Failing to show up for check-ups means that you’re more likely to get a misdiagnosis, as your practitioner is no longer familiar with your history and is, therefore, more likely to come up with something far-fetched.
Misdiagnosis happens for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean you have to be helpless in front of it. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor, and make sure not to let out anything, no matter how minor the detail might seem. It is often the subtle aspects that can weigh a great deal. If you’ve become the victim of a poor diagnosis, it’s essential to know you’re not alone and that there are experts that can help you get through this.