Carol’s tips for patients to avoid being victims of diagnostic mistakes:
Tip #1: Get a second opinion that’s completely independent. Although this may seem obvious, many patients make the mistake of seeking out second opinions from physicians that practice in the same hospital or medical group as their primary healthcare provider does. Sometimes a totally fresh perspective is what’s necessary, Gunn says. “It’s important to get an objective second opinion, even if it costs you more money,” she says.
Tip #2: Ask to speak with supporting players like radiologists. Your doctor isn’t making diagnoses in a vacuum. If you have questions about decisions that are being made, request meetings with radiologists, pathologists and other clinicians who are contributing to your case, Gunn suggests. “They have a key role in getting information back to the physicians,” she says. “I don’t think patients are having enough conversations with them.”
Tip #3: Don’t worry about rocking the boat. You may feel like you’re being a troublemaker, but the fact is, your doctor isn’t going to walk out on you if you ask questions, Gunn says. “We were concerned about that, too,” she says. “But if you’re getting more information, and people are now talking about your case, then maybe more will come out of it.”