In the 2014 movie “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) was able to set his life straight after a doctor mistakenly told him he had 90 minutes to live. Unfortunately that’s not the case for the multitude of people who are misdiagnosed annually.
According to a new Institute of Medicine report, “failure to establish an accurate ... explanation of the patient’s health problem(s) or...communicate that explanation to the patient” is pretty widespread. Other studies have reported: On average 10 percent of post-mortem exams reveal diagnostic errors possibly affecting patient outcomes; among medical malpractice suits filed with one insurer, 9 percent of claims for misdiagnoses came from obstetrics, and 61 percent from pediatrics; and one study estimated that every year, 5 percent of adult outpatients experience a diagnostic error. Fortunately, it’s possible for you to help prevent diagnostic error.
1. Provide your doc with your medical history, including medications, supplements and herbs you take. Check your medical records for errors and oversights; lab results can get overlooked, says the IOM.
2. Ask about any diagnosis, “Could it be something else?” and “What did you rule out?”
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3. Get a second (or third) opinion. We strongly believe that anytime you’re told to do something — from taking pills to P.T. — for more than a couple of days, you should get a second opinion.
And remember, misdiagnosis can come as the good news you want to hear. Sometimes it’s smart to double-check that you’re really OK.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.