What if… just what if… you were given a wrong diagnosis? Did you know that in a shocking study, it was found to be that 88% of the time, second opinions rarely agree with your first diagnosis? Were you also aware of the fact that If you are a female, statistics reveal that you your chances of being misdiagnosed are greater than a male. What if you even got several 2nd opinions that agreed or disagreed with your original diagnosis? What if the meds you were given have side effects that have been attributed to your diagnosis, yet were actually caused by the medications or treatment you were given? What if those side effects caused even more problems that were also blamed on that diagnosis and now you are taking more medications and going through more tests… perhaps even getting treatments that don’t seem to be making you any better? You’re getting worse and getting worse fast. Now, you have that original and potentially wrong diagnosis plus have been given an iatrogenic (doctor caused) disorder by ‘polypharamacy’. Polypharmacy means a disorder caused by too many drugs negatively interacting by causing too many additional conditions that were never there in the first place. Perhaps all of this is upsetting to you and you have revealed that upset to your doctor. Chances are that your doctor will now treat you for secondary depression, anxiety, insomnia or even psychosis, from your ‘reaction’ to all that is supposedly wrong with you. Now what? M
Have you ever considered that, maybe, just maybe, nothing is wrong with you at all and that whatever condition you may have had would have possibly run it’s course on it’s own or could have been easily treated with a natural alternative method? Could you have possibly been sucked into the vortex of iatrogenic harm (harm by doctors)? Have you been misdiagnosed and now this misdiagnosis has possibly snowballed you into hell where there are no answers… nothing makes sense even to your doctors… and you are now being treated only symptomatically with drugs that are making you worse? Could you now be suffering from something ‘doctor caused’ – aka an Iatrogenic disorder?
When you are sick, it is not always easy to find the right path forward. When your regular health care provider recommends surgery or a major treatment, it might be a good idea to get a second opinion after the Mayo Clinic reported that your doctor is wrong 88 percent of the time.
Even though the path to becoming a physician is long, with four years of college to get a bachelor’s degree, another four years of medical school, and three to seven more years of residency and fellowship training, experienced and well-trained doctors may still not get your diagnosis right. A second opinion may give you not only peace of mind, but also a second chance at survival.
When it comes to your health, two brains work better than one
The Mayo Clinic researchers examined 286 patient records of individuals who had decided to consult the Mayo Clinic’s General Internal Medicine Division in Rochester for a second opinion between 2009 and 2010. The group consisted of patients referred by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, along with an equal number of randomly selected physician referrals.
To determine the extent of diagnostic errors, the team compared the referring diagnosis to the final diagnosis. The researchers found that only 12 percent of patients received a correct first diagnosis, while nearly nine out of ten people (or 88 percent) who go for a second opinion, walk away with a refined or entirely new diagnosis from what they were first told. In 21 percent of all analyzed cases, the diagnosis was completely different than the first one, while 66 percent of patients walked away with a redefined diagnosis.
“Effective and efficient treatment depends on the right diagnosis. Knowing that more than 1 out of every 5 referral patients may be completely [and] incorrectly diagnosed is troubling — not only because of the safety risks for these patients prior to correct diagnosis, but also because of the patients we assume are not being referred at all,” said lead researcher James Naessens, Sc.D., a health care policy researcher at Mayo Clinic, in a statement.
Medical errors, now the leading cause of death in the US
According to a controversial study from Johns Hopkins University, medical errors, including misdiagnosis, are the leading cause of death in American hospitals. ProPublica, however, noted that this number might be higher since doctors don’t list medical errors on the death certificate, so the actual number of fatalities might be inaccurate.
With thousands of diseases, some with similar symptoms, it is not always easy to get a straightforward diagnosis from the first doctor’s visit, hence why a second opinion is so crucial to one’s health and survival. If we can learn anything from the Mayo Clinic’s study, then it is the fact that medical practices and diagnosis should be a more collaborative process. Doctors and other health care providers should work more closely together to make sure patients get the right diagnosis and proper treatment as fast as possible.
Despite the pervasiveness of diagnostic errors, which could be fatal, little attention has been given to improving the system of referrals. Dr. Naessens stated that referrals to advanced specialty care for undifferentiated problems are an essential component of patient care. While getting a second opinion might push the diagnostic costs up, a misdiagnosis could lead to delays in treatments and complications, which may result in the death of a patient.
Dr. Naessens, however, is pleased to see that the National Academy of Medicine is taking steps to improve diagnostic processes and error reduction. They called for dedicated federal funding and plan to further investigate the occurrence of diagnostic mistakes and find new ways to improve the process.