3 Tips for Avoiding Misdiagnosis

According to a recent report, 39 percent of medical malpractice payments are made because of a misdiagnosis, be it an incorrect diagnosis, a delayed diagnosis or a nondiagnosis.

To us, this seems to be a very serious issue that the medical community needs to address. After all, providing a correct diagnosis it one of a doctor’s primary responsibilities.

That being said, is there anything Connecticut residents can do to proactively protect themselves from being misdiagnosed by a doctor and suffering the subsequent health consequences?

The first thing most healthcare professionals recommend you do to ensure you receive the proper diagnosis is communicate clearly and specifically with your doctor. Instead of saying, “My arm hurts,” for example, you could say “For the past two weeks, my arm has hurt whenever I make a throwing motion. I joined a softball team a little while ago — could that be related?” Don’t worry about offering irrelevant information. Your doctor will decide what is important and what is not. It is better to have more information than necessary than not enough necessary information.

A second tip is to ask questions after being diagnosed. There is nothing wrong with saying “What makes you think that’s the issue?” or “What led you to believe that?” You’re not questioning your doctor’s authority, you’re engaging in a discussion about your health.

Finally, getting a second opinion is rarely a bad idea. Especially if the diagnosis you have received is serious, it’s simply a good idea to make sure another healthcare professional concurs.

As we said earlier, giving you the proper diagnosis is a doctor’s responsibility and nothing in this post should be construed as indicating otherwise. We just thought it would be helpful to know some quick, easy things you can do to protect yourself.

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Tips for helping your doctors avoid misdiagnosis: Drs. Oz and Roizen,” June 4, 2013