Friday, August 6, 2010

Patient Misdiagnosis: More Common Than We'd Like to Think

According to HealthDay News, July 13, 2010, a large survey of American doctors found that more than a third of them would hesitate to turn in a colleague they thought was incompetent or compromised by substance abuse or mental health problems even though the American Medical Association says that physicians have an ethical obligation to report impaired colleagues.

Many of those physicians said that they thought the problems was being taken care of by someone else. Physicians, particularly in smaller practices or small-town medical situations, were afraid of retribution.

Don't despair, though. There are other checks in place. Doctors have to take tests to demonstrate competency every 10 years. Some feel that there should be built-in redundancies to our current medical systems to ensure better quality monitoring.

Dr. Jerome Groopman reported that about 15% of all patients are misdiagnosed. And because of this, about half of them face serious harm.

Your physician needs to know all your symptoms (even the ones that embarrass you). He or she may make snap judgments based on their perception of you as a complainer or hypochondriac.

In order for you as the patient to prevent misdiagnosis, pose these questions to your doctor:

1. What else could it be?

2. Could 2 things be going on to explain my symptoms?

3. Is there anything in my history, physical examinations, lab findings or other tests that seems not to fit in with your diagnosis?

1 comment:

Diane J Standiford said...

Just reaffirms how important it is to take charge of our own health and if we are unable--take someone along who can advocate for us. Plan ahead NOW, for that advocate. Plus: Doctors don't know it all.