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Are You Getting the Right Diagnosis? Tips for Your Next Doctor Appointment

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 the process.

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 doctor appointment.

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 other treatments.

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.