Has your illness been misdiagnosed?

RedGlitter
Posts: 15777
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2005 3:51 am

Has your illness been misdiagnosed?

Post by RedGlitter »

Has your illness been misdiagnosed?


Story Highlights

Red flag may be when your symptoms don't match a diagnosis

Other signs may be when a diagnosis is based purely on a lab test

Your doctor attributes common complaints to an uncommon ailment

Your diagnosis usually involves a test you never receivedBy Elizabeth Cohen

CNN

(CNN) -- In June 2004, Trisha Torrey found a golf ball-size lump in her torso. A surgeon removed it and gave her the grim news: cancer.

And it wasn't just any cancer but an extremely rare type of lymphoma.

"The oncologist told me that if I didn't begin chemo immediately," says Torrey, "I would be dead by Christmas."

The 52-year-old marketing consultant says she was petrified. But something in her gut told her the diagnosis was wrong.

Her doctor assured her it was right: two labs had confirmed the subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma.

Against her doctor's orders, Torrey delayed chemo and went to another oncologist, who sent a tissue sample to the National Institutes of Health. The result: Torrey never had cancer.

The lump was a harmless fatty growth.

"On the one hand, I was overjoyed; on the other hand, I was just furious," Torrey says.

She couldn't believe she had been on the verge of having chemotherapy for nothing. What was it in Torrey's gut that told her the diagnosis might be wrong?

It's a lesson worth learning because misdiagnoses are more common than you might think: A 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says autopsy studies show doctors are wrong 10 percent to 15 percent of the time.

Here, from Torrey and from medical experts, are some red flags -- five reasons for suspecting your doctor might have made the wrong diagnosis.

1. You don't get better with treatment

Sometimes doctors stick to a diagnosis even when multiple treatments aren't working.

As vice president for loss prevention and patient safety at Harvard's Risk Management Foundation, Bob Hanscom remembers one particular lawsuit against Harvard doctors.

A young woman complained of stomach and chest pain. Her doctor prescribed a medicine for gastric reflux. When it didn't work, a second doctor prescribed another drug for gastric reflux. It also didn't work. The woman ended up in the emergency room with acute pancreatitis, which eventually caused kidney failure.

She survived but will be on dialysis the rest of her life.

"In her deposition, she said nobody was listening to her, so she kind of gave up," Hanscom says. "When I read that, I thought, 'Oh God, I wish you hadn't given up.' "

2. Your symptoms don't match your diagnosis

This is where the Internet comes in. You don't have to be a medical professional to Google your diagnosis.

For example, let's say a doctor diagnoses you with tendinitis. Looking it up, you can find out it usually lasts about six to 12 weeks, according to Dr. Saul Weingart, an internist and vice president for patient safety at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

If you're still in pain beyond that time, the doctor may have made the wrong diagnosis.

3. Your diagnosis is based purely on a lab test

The reality is that labs make mistakes. In Torrey's case, she says two labs made mistakes. When lab results are the sole criteria for a diagnosis, that can be a red flag, says Torrey, who works as a patient advocate. Another red flag is when a diagnosis of a rare disease comes from a lab that doesn't specialize in that disease, Weingart says.

4. Your doctor attributes common complaints to an uncommon ailment

Torrey says her doctor said her night sweats and hot flashes were caused by the extremely rare lymphoma. Actually, they were signs of menopause.

5. Your diagnosis usually involves a test you never received

This is where the Internet comes in handy again. If you find out a specific test can determine the diagnosis you've been given, but you were never given that test, that's a reason to head back to the doctor's office armed with questions, says Torrey.

If you suspect you've been misdiagnosed, you have two choices: You can go back to the doctor who made the original diagnosis, or you can seek out a second opinion (or do both).
tedhutchinson
Posts: 254
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 11:02 am

Has your illness been misdiagnosed?

Post by tedhutchinson »

Probably the least recognised most under-diagnosed condition is Vitamin D insufficiency.

Because Vit d3 acts as an antibiotic and anti inflammatory agent as well as enabling optimal uptake of calcium, low Vitamin d status results in literally hundreds of different chronic conditions.

94% of people entering hospital are Vitamin d deficient.

The more Vitamin d insufficient you are the longer your hospital stay will be.

Low vitamin d status determines admittance to nursing care home.

The lower your vitamin d status the more seriously disabled you are likely to be or become.

The only way to be sure you have adequate levels of vitamin D in your blood is to regularly go into the sun, use a sun bed (avoiding sunburn), or have your physician administer a 25‑hydroxyvitamin D test. Optimal levels are around 50 ng/mL (125 nM/L).

Those who are getting vitamin D the way Mother Nature intended, from sunshine probably are only getting about 50% of their requirement this way so most of us need about 2,000 units a day extra. If you do not get regular sun exposure or live above lat 40 where between October and March no UVB is available in sunlight, you will require the full 5000iu/daily requirement to be met from Daily D3 Cholecalciferol supplements.

Get your Vitamin D status above 137.5 nmol/L and you'll be at the level associated with lowest cancer incidence.

Prevention is better than cure so check your risk of the following here

Cancer

Diabetes

Heart Disease

Osteoporosis

Stroke

Remember although it isn't mentioned in the Harvard information, EACH of those conditions above lead back to low vitamin D status, the evidence is at those links above.
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Bryn Mawr
Posts: 15887
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:54 pm

Has your illness been misdiagnosed?

Post by Bryn Mawr »

I found out at the weekend that a friend from the boat club whose been on treatment for a heart problem for the past four years is dying of bone cancer - his heart's never been the cause at all.

Is there no come back against the doctors that mess up in this way? Are they not accountable?

If they'd picked it up in the first place he'd not be dying now :-(
RedGlitter
Posts: 15777
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2005 3:51 am

Has your illness been misdiagnosed?

Post by RedGlitter »

Good grief Bryn, that's terrible. There ought to be some way of holding those doctors accountable for an error like that.

I'm sorry.
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Bryn Mawr
Posts: 15887
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:54 pm

Has your illness been misdiagnosed?

Post by Bryn Mawr »

RedGlitter;699479 wrote: Good grief Bryn, that's terrible. There ought to be some way of holding those doctors accountable for an error like that.

I'm sorry.


The boat club is not the place to be at the moment. Within the last month we've had one suicide, one attempted suicide (the "gentleman" that drove the first guy to it), one dead of a heart attack, one dead of cancer (discussing an operation with the oncologist Sunday, died Monday) and now Pat dying of bone cancer.

I hate bloody funerals!

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