While your doctor will always take into account your every symptom in diagnosing you or your child, it can be the case that their first conclusion is not necessarily correct. It could be wrong, or incomplete, or the prescribed treatment may not be totally comprehensive. Here are some signs that can indicate that you or your loved on may be dealing with a misdiagnosis.
1. Your symptoms align with more than one medical condition.
You have a weakened voice, are seeing lumps under your skin, and your joints are inflamed. A few weeks ago, your doctor may have diagnosed you with lupus or some form of arthritis. But, according to The Rheumatologist, the official publication of the American College of Rheumatology and Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, these conditions also line up with other conditions, some as relatively common as irritable bowel disease and some as rare as Farber disease.
Sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish between the hundreds of diseases and conditions that exist, even for highly-trained professionals. If you feel that there is something else your symptoms may point to, it’s always worth asking your doctor about it or seeking a second opinion.
And speaking of second opinions…
2. The second opinion doesn’t align with the first diagnosis.
Something didn’t feel right, and you sought out a second opinion. You are always entitled to one, whether you just didn’t feel completely comfortable with your diagnosis or whether you just wanted the peace of mind that comes with a confirmation.
If your second opinion clashes with the first, it could be a sign that there was a misdiagnosis. If this is the case, it could be a good idea to seek out a third opinion. Get tips for seeking a second or third opinion here.
3. Your prescribed treatment isn’t working.
It could also be the case that you find your medication or treatment is not helping your symptoms enough, or at all. For instance, if you have been experiencing joint pain and received a juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) diagnosis, you or your child may have been prescribed the standard treatment for that condition. You may go through one or two treatments before realizing that the medication isn’t working the way your doctor said it would and that a misdiagnosis may be at the center of the issue. It’s a good idea to keep track of how you or your child are feeling on a daily basis in order to easily tell if the medication is doing enough for you.
You may go through one or two treatments before realizing that the medication isn’t working the way your doctor said it would and that a misdiagnosis may be at the center of the issue.
4. Your conversation with your doctor was not comprehensive.
While doctors have your best interest in mind, they can be overworked and crunched for time on a given day. As such, there are days when they can’t spend the time they normally would with every patient.
To help your doctor, make sure to be as specific as possible about you or your child’s symptoms. Communicate clearly the intensity of your symptoms, how long you have experienced them, and anything else that you feel could be relevant to your doctor’s diagnosis process. It helps to come prepared with notes and questions already written down, so that you can spend the time with your doctor as efficiently as possible. If you can and feel comfortable enough, you can also bring someone with you to the visit who can take notes and remind you of any questions or symptoms that you may forget to mention.
And don’t be shy! You are always free to ask direct questions, such as “What made you arrive at this diagnosis?” or even “Do you think it could be anything else?”
But, if after the appointment, you feel that the time was not spent as comprehensively as possible - and you feel that something is not quite right for, whatever reason - it could be time to revisit your doctor or to seek out a second opinion.
Misdiagnoses are relatively common occurrences. Remember that, as a patient or parent, you have the right to ask questions and to push your health providers to answer your concerns. If you have doubts or lingering questions, always be sure to raise your hand. You have the power to steer your own care.
“I Was Misdiagnosed: What To Do When Your Doctor Gets It Wrong” Healthline
“Five Signs You Might Have Been Misdiagnosed” Healthgrades
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