HOW TO AVOID MISDIAGNOSIS

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal  (“The Battle Against Misdiagnosis” ) Dr. Hardreep Singh provided some interesting insight into the causes of misdiagnosis. According to one conservative study, at least 12 million adults are misdiagnosed each year while seeking medical treatment. Although this only represents a 5% error rate, it is still significant if you are one of the 12 million misdiagnosed patients. Typical examples of misdiagnosis that we have encountered include things like an ankle fracture being diagnosed as a sprain; appendicitis being diagnosed as kidney stones; an anaphylactic reaction being diagnosed as a heart attack; pneumonia diagnosed as an upper respiratory infection; malignant melanoma diagnosed as a subarea keratosis; and meningitis diagnosed as an ear infection. To varying degrees each of these situations resulted in the patient having a much worse outcome than had the correct diagnosis been made sooner. In many of these situations, there was nothing the patient could have done differently. However, this article does correctly point to the steps that every patient can take to prevent or minimize the adverse effects of a misdiagnosis. One of the primary causes of misdiagnosis is poor communication between the patient and the doctor. The patient is usually the best source of information when it comes to helping the doctor make the correct diagnosis. So it is important when you are a patient to make sure the doctor is aware of your relevant medical history. However, you may encounter a situation where your doctor hurries through the patient history and/or physical exam which can lead to a missed diagnosis. The article attributes the problem...