When you are suffering from symptoms that keep you from feeling like yourself, chances are, you visit your doctor with the hope that he or she will assess your condition and recommend a course of treatment to follow. Because doctors have high levels of education and particularly important job duties, you may trust them wholeheartedly to accurately diagnose your condition and treat you accordingly. Unfortunately, doctors do make mistakes, and in some cases, those errors can have grave consequences.
When doctors delay or misdiagnose patients, or when they completely fail to diagnose a patient with a particularly troubling medical condition, the patient is the one left suffering. When doctors fail to diagnose or wait too long to diagnose certain cancers, for example, this can have a direct effect on your overall prognosis because early detection of cancer typically breeds better outcomes.
Commonly misdiagnosed conditions
There are certain forms of cancer more commonly misdiagnosed than others. Breast, lung and colorectal cancers all make this list, and they together account for a substantial percentage of all medical misdiagnoses. Heart attacks, too, fall to misdiagnosis, and this is likely due at least in part to the fact that some symptoms associated with heart attacks, such as dizziness, nausea and fatigue, may also indicate a patient is suffering from the common flu.
Doctors are also often late to diagnose patients who suffer strokes, and this is particularly likely when stroke victims develop symptoms slowly and over time rather than all at once. In some cases, physicians believe their patients are suffering from severe migraines when, in fact, they were suffering strokes.
There are certain steps you can take as a patient that may reduce your chances of receiving an inaccurate, missed or delayed medical diagnosis. Securing a second opinion is a good idea, and particularly if your doctor is recommending an aggressive course of treatment, or if your gut tells you to question his or her diagnosis. Additionally, make sure you are always honest with your doctor about your habits, especially when they involve drinking, smoking, drug use or anything else you may be hesitant to share.