Cause and Effect – What Leads to a Misdiagnosis?

April 26, 2016
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There are thousands of diseases that can affect the human body. With such a large variety out there, it is not uncommon that conditions will have overlapping symptoms and often be difficult to diagnose. The result of this, unfortunately, is the occasional misdiagnosis. The following are a few of the reasons why patients do not get their definitive medical answers as quickly as they would like.

Doctors Do Not Know All The Symptoms

There are thousands of diseases that can affect the human body. With such a large variety out there, it is not uncommon that conditions will have overlapping symptoms and often be difficult to diagnose. The result of this, unfortunately, is the occasional misdiagnosis. The following are a few of the reasons why patients do not get their definitive medical answers as quickly as they would like.

Doctors Do Not Know All The Symptoms

Patients tend to focus on the most troubling of symptoms and forget about the others. If something as simple as “being tired all the time” is left out of the illness narrative, this can alter the diagnosis. A doctor might be thinking the condition is one thing, but because a patient leaves out pertinent information, it displays as another.

There are No Definitive Tests

When it comes to conditions like cancer, there are definitive tests and markers that point doctors in the right direction. However, auto-immune conditions, like Fibromyalgia, often do not have the same markers. In fact, there is no one definitive test for Fibromyalgia and a doctor must use a process of elimination to find the right problem. Eliminating other conditions takes time and can delay a right diagnosis.

Doctor’s Skill Levels

When it comes to finding a good doctor, for many patients it is often the luck of the draw. Patients could have someone that is just out of residency, or could end up with a seasoned doctor of twenty years. If the doctor they are seeing does not have specialized knowledge about their condition, then it can delay the diagnosis. Different doctors have specialties in diverse areas. There is no way a doctor can know all things about every disease. Sometimes the professionals have to hit the books, too.

The Condition is Not Well Known

There are new diseases popping up every day. If a patient’s condition is not well known, then it can take longer to find the answers needed. It can be challenging for doctors to keep up with all the new conditions being issued on an almost daily basis. In most conditions, doctors look for hallmark signs that can lead them in the right direction.

Not Cooperating and Having Tests Done

One of the biggest problems that doctors face with their patients is their cooperation. While many people come seeking help for medical problems, they do not want to have the testing done to find out what is going on. Having testing completed and cooperating is a big part of the puzzle. Even if there have been fifty tests previously done that show nothing, it could be the one test that you fail to take that could have contained the answers.

Misdiagnosis and medical negligence are serious issues requiring the attention of both doctors and patients alike. According to an expert from Snyder & Wenner, P.C., the Journal of Patient Safety reports that between 210,000 and 440,000 people die each year as a result of medical negligence. There are many reasons why this may be, especially if a diagnosis is delayed or even outright wrong. The best thing a patient can do is ensure there is a well-seasoned doctor on the case and that they are cooperating with all of their testing requests. Some cases are not solved overnight, and these things take time.