Sunday, June 21, 2009

Has your illness been misdiagnosed?

"misdiagnoses are more common than you might think: A 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says autopsy studies show doctors are wrong 10 percent to 15 percent of the time."
"1. You don't get better with treatment

Sometimes doctors stick to a diagnosis even when multiple treatments aren't working.

As vice president for loss prevention and patient safety at Harvard's Risk Management Foundation, Bob Hanscom remembers one particular lawsuit against Harvard doctors. ... "In her deposition, she said nobody was listening to her, so she kind of gave up," Hanscom says.

2. Your symptoms don't match your diagnosis"

My symptoms (fever, swollen glands, etc.) didn't match the diagnosis the doctor wanted to give me (depression), but that didn't bother him.  When confronted later, he said "nothing you said made sense", because I was specifically telling him the symptoms that didn't match up to depression, trying to lead him away from that wrong diagnosis. 

When the anti-depressants simply made me sicker, he should have looked for another diagnosis -- like going back to the one that I initially told him I had, which he arrogantly disregarded.  He didn't.  Like the woman who sued Harvard, "nobody was listening".  I told them from the first what the correct diagnosis was and what the correct treatment was.  But the doctors weren't about to take advice from a patient.

If the AMA would work to bring down this 10-15% misdiagnosis rate, they could eliminate a lot of malpractice suits just by getting it right more often.  In some states, in order to sue for malpractice, you have to submit a statement from a doctor that your problems are attributable to the treatment, and not the disease.  These are not frivolous cases -- these are people whose lives have been forever changed because of an error.  Sometimes it's an innocent accident, and sometimes, as in my case, it's an intentional disregard for an existing diagnosis and/or test results that would contradict the diagnosis the doctor wants to make.

Read "How Doctors Think" by Dr. Jerome Groopman, and you'll learn exactly how and why doctors make the mistakes that lead to malpractice lawsuits.  The problem isn't greedy patients, it's doctors who want to ruin lives and skip away leaving the patient to pay the price for their misconduct.



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