Studies suggest that missed, incorrect or delayed diagnoses account for
10 to 20 percent of all
medical errors. Even more concerning, research funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research
and Quality revealed that 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes reported
anonymously by doctors were life-threatening or had resulted in death
or permanent disability.
With this in mind, it is imperative to take an active role in your healthcare.
This means asking questions and being assertive if you feel like your
doctor is not taking your concerns seriously.
To help you get started, we would like to share the following checklist,
which was created by the National Patient Safety Foundation:
Tell your story: Be clear, complete, and accurate when you tell your doctor or nurse about
your illness. Many patients find it helpful to write down notes to facilitate
Be a good historian: Remember to tell your doctor how the illness has progressed over time,
what treatments you have tried, and whether your family medical history
may put you at risk for certain illnesses.
Be a good record keeper: Keep your own records of test results, referrals, and hospital admissions.
Also keep track of all of your medications and bring the list to every
Be an informed consumer: Learn about your illness, test procedures, and medications by asking
questions and searching reputable online sources.
Take charge of managing your health: Make sure each doctor knows all of your test results, medications, or
Follow up: Ask if you need to schedule another appointment, what to expect from
the treatment, and what you should do if you are not feeling better.
Verify it is the right diagnosis: Don’t be afraid to ask if there could be other possible explanations
for your condition.