Helping your doctor in Rhode Island make the right diagnosis

There are several steps patients can take to help their doctor avoid making a wrong diagnosis when they go in for an appointment.

When patients in Rhode Island make an appointment with a doctor, they expect that the medical professional they see will correctly diagnose them. However, this does not always occur, and millions of patients are misdiagnosed every year. According to CBS News, in the U.S. on an annual basis, approximately 12 million adults are misdiagnosed while seeking outpatient care. In half of these cases, the wrong diagnosis has the potential to result in serious harm. Although all patients are at risk of misdiagnosis, there are still steps they can take to reduce error when they see a health care provider.

Write down every symptom

Before their appointment, according to WebMD, patients should sit down two to three times and write down their symptoms as well as what they would like to speak to their doctor about. Then, they should bring this list with them to their appointment and bring a pen and extra paper to write down key statements their doctor makes.

Come with a comprehensive medical history

Many medical conditions, such as heart disease, depression, anxiety and cancer, have a genetic component. For this reason, patients should go through their family history and figure out what diseases and conditions are common. If patients are unsure of what conditions their relatives have developed, they should ask them before their appointment.

Describe symptoms in detail

When patients meet with their doctor, they should be as precise as possible when they talk about the symptoms they are experiencing. For example, if a patient is experiencing pain, he or she should talk about whether it is sharp, shooting or dull. He or she should also determine how long the pain lasts, when it started and if anything decreases it.

Patients should also try to provide their physician with conclusive details. For instance, when describing headache issues, a patient should state that he or she has a headache once a week instead of every so often.

Be descriptive without making conclusions

While telling their doctor about their symptoms, patients should focus on what they are experiencing instead of making assumptions about the condition they have. For instance, a patient who is experiencing ear pain should simply tell his or her physician that the pain has become a problem, and not that he or she has an ear infection.

By taking these steps, patients may be more likely to avoid the severe consequences of a wrong diagnosis. However, in cases where a medical professional makes an incorrect diagnosis, patients in Rhode Island may benefit from speaking with an attorney about what legal steps they should take next.