You know your body better than anyone, and you may recognize when something is amiss. You may not know exactly what is causing your discomfort or symptoms, though, so you may depend on your doctor to tell you. Unfortunately, research shows that doctors provide inaccurate or incomplete diagnoses entirely too often, and when they misdiagnose patients, it often has a substantial effect on prognosis.
According to AARP, diagnosing patients is quite difficult. This is due in part to the fact that while there are about 10,000 possible diseases, there are only a few hundred symptoms doctors may consider when diagnosing a patient’s condition. How often are today’s doctors misdiagnosing patients, and what steps could you take to increase the chances of receiving an accurate diagnosis?
Statistics surrounding misdiagnosis
A recent study involving patients who sought second medical opinions revealed that about a fifth of all American patients receive serious diagnoses that are wrong, or at least somewhat wrong. More than 20% of patients in the study received completely incorrect medical diagnoses. Another 66% received diagnoses that required updating later on. Only 12% of patients received correct medical diagnoses during their initial visits with their physicians.
The value of a second opinion
If your doctor diagnoses you with something serious, or if he or she recommends that you undergo an invasive treatment for a condition, consider getting a second opinion before doing so. For starters, taking this step may enhance the chances of you finding out what is really wrong with you. It may also help you avoid undergoing unnecessary or costly medical procedures for a condition you do not have.