Posted on 06/09/2021

How to avoid a medical misdiagnosis?

How to avoid a medical misdiagnosis?

While there is no way to guarantee medical misdiagnosis avoidance, you can take a few proactive steps to protect yourself against it as a patient.

Medical misdiagnosis is a common medical malpractice issue that can have devastating results. Medical misdiagnosis can result in numerous harmful consequences, ranging from medical professionals prescribing the wrong medications to delaying life-saving medical care or treatments. Additionally, medical misdiagnosis can result in patients misunderstanding the scope of their medical condition. And if patients don’t fully understand their medical condition, they:

  • Cannot make informed decisions about their medical treatment 
  • Cannot make the decisions necessary to have the best quality of life 
  • May not be able to appropriately make the decisions that could save their lives 

Making a Medical Diagnosis

Often for medical professionals it can be easy to misjudge a medical condition by looking only at the patient’s reported symptoms and taking an “if the shoe fits” approach. But, just because the symptoms fit one medical condition, it doesn’t preclude them from matching other medical conditions.

Meningitis is a good example of this scenario. Initially, meningitis can present to medical staff as influenza or another viral illness. If the medical professionals make an error, this could be misdiagnosed with severe results. 

Alternatively, conditions like Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome can appear similar on the surface. A doctor diagnosing solely by an initial overview of a patient could miss the subtleties that could lead to an accurate medical diagnosis. 

Other commonly misdiagnosed conditions include:

  • Heart attack
  • Cancer
  • Iron deficiency anemia 
  • Endometriosis
  • Back pain
  • Eczema
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Celiac disease
  • Migraines
  • Epilepsy or epileptic seizures
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

5 Steps to Avoid a Medical Misdiagnosis

With a bit of pre-planning you can help protect yourself and avoid a medical misdiagnosis. The following are just a few steps that you can take to avoid a potential medical misdiagnosis. 

1. Prepare for your appointment ahead of time

If you’re going to a doctor for the first time, make a list of any procedures or tests you’ve had done in the past two years. Include any lab results or X-rays, etc., from previous health care providers.

This can help your new doctor note any changes to tests they may choose to run. Another good tip is to look into your family medical history before your appointment, paying particular attention to any hereditary diseases or disorders such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

2. Make a list of your symptoms

When you’re sitting face to face with a doctor, it can be easy to forget an important symptom. That’s why making a list of any symptoms or changes you’ve noticed, such as weight loss or weight gain, can be helpful. Be as specific as you can when describing your symptoms. Consider your symptoms from every possible angle. For example, when describing pain:

  • Is it a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, sickly ache? 
  • Does it stay in one place, or does it travel to another part of your body? 
  • Do you experience the pain after a specific activity such as eating or arising after sitting for an extended time?
  • How long does your pain last? A few seconds, hours, or days? 
  • When did you first notice the pain? 
  • How frequent is it? Did it happen just one time, or does it recur frequently? 

The more specific you can be, the more accurate your diagnosis can be. And don’t forget to bring a notebook and a pen to your appointment as well. Taking notes can be especially beneficial if you receive news that is potentially upsetting. 

3. Bring your medications with you (in their original prescription bottles)

Rather than writing down the names of your medications or relying on memory, it’s important to bring your medications in the original bottles (or bring a photo of them, if they are cumbersome to carry). Medical names and classifications can be very similar, and missing or transposing just one or two letters can mean entirely different medications.

4. Ask questions until you feel comfortable with the answers

You might feel shy about asking a doctor medical questions, but it’s important to be sure you understand what your doctor is saying. Consider asking your doctor questions about medical treatments, whether you’ll need to see specialists, or what they’ll need to make an accurate diagnosis.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a second (or maybe even a third) opinion. Remember, being an advocate for your health and well-being is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and everyone who loves you. 

5. Don’t be afraid to get involved in the management of your condition

Keeping on top of any test results and ensuring they get reviewed in a timely fashion is important. By following up on appointments, you can potentially catch things before they have a chance to fall through any cracks in the system.

This is especially helpful for ensuring important information isn’t lost or overlooked if you are transferred to a new health care facility or switch doctors during treatment.

What to Do if You Have Experienced Medical Misdiagnosis

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical misdiagnosis, contact the Medical Malpractice Team at Grover Lewis Johnson. We’re a proven advocate for our medical malpractice clients, and we want to put our 25 years of malpractice knowledge and experience to work for you. 

We are genuinely interested in you and your situation. That’s why when you get in touch with the medical misdiagnosis experts at Grover Lewis Johnson for your free consultation, we listen to everything you have to tell us. We want to learn all about your specific situation. We’ll go through the information you provide and let you know whether you have a case worth pursuing. 

At Grover Lewis Johnson, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay us until we win your case. It also means that if we don’t win your case, we don’t get paid.

No one can undo the pain and suffering you have gone through as a result of medical misdiagnosis, but we can help you get the proper compensation you deserve.

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