If you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with a serous illness, the temptation to rush into surgery or powerful treatments can be overpowering. As difficult as it may seem, now is not the time to make snap decisions. Now is the time to take a deep breath, and gather more information from reputable sources and experts on your disease, so that you can go forward with absolute certainty that you are treating the correct problem.
Diagnostic errors contribute to 10% of all deaths, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. Even worse? Every American will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime.
Diagnostic errors are common, costly and dangerous. But there are steps you can take to make sure you're getting the right diagnosis and avoiding potentially harmful treatments.
Here are 8 questions that can serve as a starting point for conversations with your doctor. Supplement them with questions related to your specific circumstances.
1. I understand that you believe I have this disease, but how confident are you in the diagnosis?
2. Is there anything else could this be?
3. Are there more tests that can be done to confirm this diagnosis?
4. Was the lab test sample good/the imaging clear? Would it make sense to get a second read?
5. Have you read all my medical records to get the full picture of my symptoms? Would it help if I went over them with you?
6. You say I have an abnormal blood test/a lab abnormality and that we can treat it with medication. But is it possible that this is indicative of a bigger problem? Are there other tests we should be doing to rule out serious diseases?
7. Before we move forward with treatment, are you confident we’ve explored all my options?
8. I appreciate what you’re saying, and it sounds very serious. I’d like to get copies of my lab reports/imaging/medical records in order to get a second opinion.
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