When a diagnosis goes wrong: What to do
Going to the doctor can be a stressful experience. This is particularly true when you’re trying to pursue the right diagnosis.
A misdiagnosis can cause serious health problems. You could end up being prescribed medication that has no effect on the condition you’re really suffering from. It could also go on to cause complications as you shouldn’t have been taking it in the first place.
There’s also the right of potential unnecessary surgery, not something anyone wants to have to deal with. That makes it vital to address any concerns with a diagnosis as soon as possible.
So what should you do when you think you’ve been misdiagnosed?
Get a second opinion
You don’t have to simply accept what your doctor has told you. After all, you know your body better than anyone. You know when something isn’t right. Seek out a second opinion – or even a third or fourth – if you’re still dissatisfied with the advice you’ve been given.
You may feel reluctant to challenge your doctor as they’re supposed to be the experts. But you’re the expert on yourself and how you’re feeling. Don’t give up on getting the right diagnosis.
Tell your doctor that you’re going to look for a second opinion and that you’ll need your medical records to show your new healthcare provider. Then it’s important to see a doctor at a different hospital or clinic. This will help to prevent any institutional culture from colouring your diagnosis.
Try to engage
As with so many problems in life, you may find that the issue you’re experiencing with your doctor comes down to communication.
If you want to pursue a second opinion from another doctor, you’ll need to make sure you’re communicating well with them. Doctors have often overestimated their ability to communicate with patients, according to studies, so it could pay to go in to your next appointment prepared.
Write a list of questions you have about your condition and treatment so you don’t forget what you want to know. If your doctor doesn’t listen as well as you feel they should, consider addressing this with them. You have the right to be heard when you look for medical help.
Take someone with you
If you feel too nervous to confront your doctor about their diagnosis, you could benefit from having someone with you at your appointments. It’s always best if this is someone who knows you well. This way, they’ll know what to look out for and what you need.
They could offer an opinion on what the doctor recommends. They can also be an extra set of ears to listen to the treatment plan your doctor puts forward, in case you’re overwhelmed by everything and some details slip your mind.
But it’s also important not to let them talk over you or tell the doctor what you’ve been going through. If they contradict what you say or add a detail that you don’t agree with, this could confuse the situation for your doctor and potentially cause problems with getting the right diagnosis. You’re the only one who really knows how you’ve been feeling and what went wrong with your initial diagnosis, so make sure you get your point across.