When your gut tells you something isn’t right with your body, you might set an appointment with your doctor, trusting that their diagnosis will give you answers. Yet, what your doctor says and prescribes may not align with what you are feeling. It may even appear as though they’re ignoring or minimizing your symptoms.
Misdiagnosis, where a physician incorrectly identifies a patient’s illness, is a prevailing problem. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis can have devastating effects on a patient’s health, and many factors can contribute to it, such as poor communication.
To ensure you receive the medical care you need, consider taking the following steps:
1. Be proactive when communicating
On average, physicians see over twenty patients in a single day. While there is no excuse to downplay your health concerns, a doctor may fail to fully consider your entire medical history and symptoms due to factors like fatigue or lack of time.
You can help the doctor by playing a more active role in the conversation. Get your doctor up to speed by letting them know about any medications or treatments you’ve been taking. Make sure to provide detailed descriptions of your symptoms, including how they feel and when they occur.
Additionally, miscommunication sometimes occurs during consultations because patients hesitate to ask questions. If you feel they missed something or do not understand their diagnosis, do not hesitate to raise your concerns.
2. Bring company
Visiting a doctor alone can sometimes feel intimidating. If you find it difficult to explain your symptoms or need support, bringing someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, might help.
This person can ask questions, speak up for you or help rephrase the doctor’s explanation if you have trouble understanding it. They might also be able to reveal valuable information that you forgot to mention.
3. Seek a second opinion
If you believe that, despite clearly explaining your symptoms, your doctor is not delivering the care you require, you can seek a second opinion from a different doctor. Of those who went to another doctor, 21% received an entirely new diagnosis. Even if you don’t get a new diagnosis, talking to another physician may help clarify your current diagnosis.
While it is not easy to assert yourself in front of your doctor, speaking up may help them better understand the root of your health issues. Additionally, it’s not always a case of doctors intentionally disregarding your symptoms. Sometimes the problem is miscommunication. By being an active participant in your health care journey, you may have a better chance of getting the help you need.