Medical misdiagnosis is the most common medical error.
September 6, 2021
Diagnostic errors can lead to death or serious health complications.
What is medical misdiagnosis?
It is defined as an incorrect, incomplete, or delayed diagnosis and some estimates suggest it is responsible for more deaths each year than breast cancer.
How does misdiagnosis occur?
- Test results not being fully understood
- Gaps in test results
- Incorrect testing of symptoms
- Not collecting all the relevant information from the patient
- Failure to recognize symptoms
What are the dangers of misdiagnosis?
It can be life threatening for a patient if treatment of an illness is delayed, not treated or treatment is provided for the wrong disease.
Having the right diagnosis is critical to ensure the best treatment and reduce the possibility of complications and poor medical outcomes.
For critical illnesses like cancer, this is even more important. There are over 100 types of cancer and it can be a very complicated disease.
Successful cancer treatment should involve medical knowledge from multiple specialties including oncology, surgery, radiology, and pathology.
What are the warning signs of misdiagnosis?
You are not getting better with treatment. Treatments don’t always work for all patients, but this can also be a sign that the original diagnosis was wrong. Sometimes doctors continue a treatment even when it isn’t working.
The symptoms do not match your diagnosis. If your symptoms last longer than your doctor expected, then you may have the wrong diagnosis.
The diagnosis is based solely on a lab test. Laboratories can make mistakes and testing can be interpreted differently by different doctors.
Your concerns or symptoms are not taken seriously. Some cancers are easily missed when symptoms are not properly investigated.
Diagnosis usually requires a test that you haven’t been given If you have a diagnosis without the use of a test that is well known to detect that particular disease – such as a colonoscopy for prostate cancer – then you should ask for this test.
How can I avoid misdiagnosis of my condition?
Engage a team of expert doctors
The best way to avoid the risk of misdiagnosis is to ensure that your diagnosis is reviewed by a team of expert doctors with different specialties in cancer.
The “multidisciplinary team” work together to understand the case, share medical opinions, develop the best treatment plan, and implement care.
This method is widely recognized as the most effective way to deliver the complex care needed by cancer patients, customize treatment plans and follow a holistic and personalized approach.
Be informed and involved in the decision making
Patients who are involved and informed about their own care have better results and higher satisfaction.
Some people are uncomfortable or scared by medical terms and prefer to let doctors make decisions. Fortunately, there are several forms of patient support available.
A Personal Care Manager can help patients understand complicated medical words, consider different options for treatment, and make informed decisions.
If you are worried about your diagnosis, it is always best to ask your doctor questions and it is very important to seek an additional opinion.
Knowledge is power and getting the right diagnosis from the start can help avoid complications, lengthy treatment, or poor results.