Five Steps to Avoid Being Misdiagnosed

1. Don’t be shy. Be curious, and insistent. Ask your doctor questions about your diagnosis and treatment. Ask things like, “What else could this be?” Keep asking questions every step of the way until you’re satisfied with the answers.

2. Get a second opinion. But don’t show up and tell the next doctor, “I’ve been diagnosed with this type of illness, what do you think?” Instead, focus on telling the doctor all of your symptoms. Don’t guide their thinking toward what the first doctor said you have. As Dr. Jerome Groopman writes in his classic book, “How Doctors Think,” “Telling the story again may help the physician register some clue that was, in fact, said the first time but was overlooked or thought unimportant.”

3. Take the time to get to know your family medical history – and make sure your doctor knows about it. Studies show your family history may tell you more about what kinds of illnesses you may have or are likely to get than even genetic testing. If you search for “My Family Health Portrait” on Google you’ll find a handy online tool from the U.S. Surgeon General to assemble your own family medical history.

4. Take someone with you to doctor’s visits. It’s hard to listen to difficult medical news and pay attention to all the details at the same time. Bring along a friend or family member to remind you of questions you want to ask, and to help you write down important notes.

5. Have your pathology re-checked. If you had a biopsy and your diagnosis is based on your pathology report, try to get it reviewed again. Pathology is incorrectly interpreted more often than commonly thought. If that interpretation is wrong, your diagnosis – and your treatment – are probably going to be wrong, too.

Source: Best Doctors, Best Doctors, Inc., which serves over 30 million members worldwide, brings together the best medical minds in the world to help members get the right diagnosis and right treatment. Relying on the expertise of physicians named by impartial peer review to the top 5% of their specialty fields, Best Doctors takes the time to ask in-depth questions about each case, find the best specialists for each condition, and in the process improve health outcomes while reducing costs.

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