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article imageFive commonly misdiagnosed diseases

By Chris V. Thangham     Sep 28, 2007 in Health
Experts who study malpractice cases and autopsy reports find 5 diseases are misdiagnosed several times. Cancer, heart attack, infections are the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses
Actor John Ritter, died in 2003 of an aortic dissection, a tearing of the major artery that comes out of the heart. If he had been diagnosed properly, his life would have been saved. In fact, the doctors misdiagnosed him at least twice according to his wife, who filed a lawsuit and settled out of court with a California hospital.
Here are the 5 common diseases that are misdiagnosed:
1. Aortic dissection: It is supposed to be an easier disease to diagnose, the patient feels a tearing sensation in his or her chest, but sometimes they may be easily diagnosed a simple “heartburn” case which happened to John Ritter.
2. Cancer: A Harvard study of malpractice claims in the US found cancer is the most misdiagnosed illness, mostly breast and colorectal cancers. Study says the doctors and hospital fail to stick to cancer screening guidelines.
3. Clogged Arteries: Instead of diagnosing coronary artery disease, sometimes doctor say the patient is short of breath because they are out of shape according to Dr. Robert Bonow, past president of the American Heart Association.
4. Heart attack: Bonow it may sound strange that heart attack is one of the most misdiagnosed cases, because it is always not clear. The signs of heart attack are a sense of fullness in the heart, nausea problem and general sense of not feeling well, which symptoms are misinterpreted easily.
5. Infection: In the Harvard study, infection followed cancer as the most misdiagnosed condition.
Here are some recommendations of how to avoid being a victim of misdiagnosis.
1. Ask for more tests Don’t Miss. Nancy Keelan, a nurse, says demand more tests. Once she complained to her gynecologist about irregular, heavy bleeding, but her doctor misdiagnosed it five times as menopause, later she found it was ovarian cancer. So if you feel repeated pain, keep asking for more tests or see a different doctor.
2. Ask, “What else could my illness be?” Once doctors make up their mind, it is difficult for them to change the status of diagnosis, so Dr. Mark Graber says to ask you doctor for further evaluation or tests.
3. Don’t assume no news is good news. Lab results get lost or forgotten, so Dr. Tejal Gandhi at Harvard Medical School asks patients to get their test results and see for abnormalities. If a test was done, ask them whether you can see the test results and what it says.
4. Assume your doctors don't talk to one another. If you are consulting multiple doctors, they advise you to have a conference call to connect them together. Reason being, doctors seldom talk to each other and discuss the test results.
5. Be wary when your doctors work in shifts The title of Gandhi's 2005 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine says it all: "Fumbled Handoffs: One Dropped Ball after Another." It is like ER or Grey Anatomy type of situation, sometimes they don’t pass the results in a proper manner to the next shift and ends up being misdiagnosed.
I had malaria once, but the malaria symptoms won’t show after a day in the test results, so every time the test results came it showed I had no malaria. So, I got Malaria several times during the same year, luckily another doctor found this and gave me the correct prescription.
Did you have any experience of misdiagnosis? Do you have any suggestions how to avoid it?
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