Nearly every person will experience a diagnostic error in their lifetime, according to a 2015 report by the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as Institute of Medicine). That's a scary fact to wrap your head around. We hold our doctors and healthcare professionals to a high standard, expecting them to understand our symptoms and diagnose us correctly every time. But doctors are humans after all.
There is a lot to know in medicine, and with new discoveries and studies coming out every day, it's hard to keep it all straight. There's no way your doctor can memorize it all. That's why there's a renewed focus on diagnostic accuracy and decision support. With the right tools at the doctor's office, your physician can understand your symptoms, do a better physical exam, and make a more accurate diagnosis. These tools can reduce the margin of error, prompting your physician to consider diagnoses they may not have thought of.
What can we do as patients? Dr. Mark Graber, founder and president of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), outlines a list of actions patients can take to mitigate their own risk in a blog for the University of Florida. Here are some highlights.
- Be a good historian - Keep records of your symptoms, including when they started and whether treatment helped.
- Know your test results and keep accurate records - Follow up if you don't receive copies of test results or consults.
- SPEAK UP! Ask questions - What else could it be? What should I expect? When/how should I follow up if I don't feel better? Where can I go to learn more? Is this test worth it, or can it wait?
- Provide feedback about diagnostic errors to your doctors and organizations.
- Understand that diagnosis involves an element of uncertainty.
- Get second opinions regarding serious diagnoses or unresolved symptoms.
For the full list, read the blog here.
The professional tool VisualDx, widely used and trusted by physicians and healthcare providers around the world, has a mission to improve diagnostic accuracy. Learn more about how VisualDx is making that happen.