The People's Perspective on Medicine

You Have Likely Been the Victim of Diagnostic Mistakes

Diagnostic mistakes are surprisingly common. They can lead to disability or death. A new study identifies the most common conditions that are often missed.
Depressed doctor leaning against wall in hospital corridor

Americans are unforgiving when it comes to mistakes. If a bank teller cashed a check and gave you the wrong amount, you would not put up with it. If your auto mechanic misdiagnosed your car’s problem and charged you hundreds of dollars for a repair that didn’t work, you would complain bitterly. Why do we accept so many diagnostic mistakes from our health professionals without a word?

Pilots Gone Astray

Here’s an example of an unforgiving public when professionals make mistakes. On October 21, 2009, Northwest Airlines Flight 188 left San Diego for Minneapolis. For reasons that still remain somewhat mysterious the pilots overflew the airport by 150 miles. They landed in Minneapolis more than an hour late.

No one was injured and no one died because of this error. The pilots were humiliated in the media. The FAA revoked their pilot certificates and the National Transportation Safety Board instituted significant changes in procedures as a result of this screwup.

When Health Professionals Make Diagnostic Mistakes:

If physicians, nurse practitioners or physician assistants make errors, they can easily go undetected. Health professionals rarely get called out for diagnostic mistakes. Patients may not even realize something has gone wrong until it’s too late.

Researchers evaluating primary care visits estimate that about 5 percent of diagnoses in that setting are in error, affecting approximately 12 million adults each year (BMJ Quality and Safety, Sep. 2014). 

The researchers conclude:

“Based upon previous work, we estimate that about half of these errors could potentially be harmful.”

If you think 12 million is a large number, consider that this does not include diagnostic mistakes made in hospitals, specialty clinics or nursing homes. If people were actually counting errors, it is likely the number would be far greater.

Malpractice Claims and Diagnostic Mistakes:

Depending upon which study you read, you get either a depressing view or a horrifying view of health care harm. Recent research on settled malpractice claims concluded that 80,000 to 160,000 people suffer serious disability or death due to misdiagnosis each year (Diagnosis, Sept. 2019). About three-fourths of these grave mistakes involve one of the “big three:” cardiovascular conditions, infections or cancer.

These authors note in their discussion that no one really knows how many people are being harmed or killed by serious diagnostic mistakes in primary care settings.

Citing the BMJ Quality and Safety study, they state that it:

“…would translate to at least 4 million seriously harmed, including at least 1.7 million who died from diagnostic error.”

We grant you that that is the theoretical upper limit. The range for “serious misdiagnosis-related harms” is between 80,000 and 4 million. The reason the numbers are so varied is that no one is actually counting. The CDC does not include diagnostic mistakes on its list of their leading causes of death. Death certificates rarely, if ever, list cause of death as “diagnostic error” or “medical mistake.” 

If anyone were counting, diagnostic mistakes would be a leading cause of death in America. But unlike heart disease and cancer, there is no Institute of Diagnostic Mistakes. Politicians allocate billions of taxpayer funds to the National Cancer Institute, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But barely a drop in the bucket goes to preventing healthcare harm due to faulty diagnosis. 

Why Proper Diagnosis Matters!

When you see doctors for troublesome problems, you probably expect them to uncover the reasons for your symptoms. Accuracy matters, because undergoing treatment for the wrong condition won’t help and may do you harm.

Treatment delay could be deadly. In addition, you could be taking medicine with potentially serious side effects that won’t help your condition at all.

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Overlooking Drug-Induced Side Effects:

Doctors may also have trouble diagnosing reactions to medications they have prescribed. We have heard from hundreds of people describing a wracking cough that took them into the clinic time after time.

Some took cough medicine or antibiotics that did nothing, while others underwent multiple tests for infection, allergy or asthma, without result. Eventually, for these readers, the source of the problem was identified as an ACE inhibitor blood pressure medicine, usually lisinopril.

While the ACE-inhibitor cough is extremely uncomfortable, it is rarely life threatening. A different reaction to this drug, angioedema, can block airways. Intestinal angioedema can also cause serious harm, but it may be difficult to diagnose.

One reader related this experience:

“I came across your website while literally writhing in agony after my first dose of lisinopril. My stomach felt like I had eaten a bag of glass. After hours of agony and consulting Dr. Google, I knew what it was and went to the ER.

“None of the doctors had even heard of it before. I kept yelling to my husband, ‘Tell them about intestinal angioedema!’ All three doctors were flabbergasted that just one dose could cause this. I was in the hospital for four days. Moral of the story–be your own advocate!”

Millions of people take lisinopril without problems. When people do develop adverse reactions, though, health care providers must be alert to that possibility.

Protecting Yourself from Diagnostic Mistakes:

What can patients do to protect themselves from misdiagnosis? Dr. David Newman-Toker is Director of the Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He suggests that patients prepare a summary of their symptoms and history before seeing a clinician. After getting an initial diagnosis, ask:

“What is the worst thing this could be?”

Follow up with:

“Why is it not that?”

You will find 10 additional questions and ways to reduce diagnostic errors in our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.

In the book you will find a copy of our “Safe Patient Checklist.” We encourage you to make a copy and have your health professional fill it out at every visit. We also provide a list of the top diagnostic screwups health professionals make. More important are the Top 10 Questions to Ask to Reduce Diagnostic Disasters. The top five are:

  1. What are my primary concerns and symptoms? (This essential question will reveal if your doctor was actually paying attention).
  2. How confident are you about this diagnosis?
  3. What further tests might be helpful to improve your confidence?
  4. Are there any findings or symptoms that don’t fit your diagnosis or contradict it?
  5. What else could it be?

Here is a link to Top Screwups. It just might save your life or the life of someone you love.

One caveat: The online shipping costs are pricey. We apologize for that. It is a function of the shopping cart and we have no control over shipping costs. There is a less expensive shipping method.

To order by mail, please send $15 plus $4 postage and handling to:

  • Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, Dept. TSDM
  • PO Box 52027
  • Durham, NC 27717-2027

Have you ever experienced diagnostic mistakes? If so, please share your story in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them
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It is a well-kept secret, but harm from health care is a leading cause of death in this country. Get practical suggestions to protect yourself and loved ones from medical mistakes & drug disasters.

Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them
Citations
  • Newman-Toker, D., et al, "Serious misdiagnosis-related harms in malpractice claims: The “Big Three” – vascular events, infections, and cancers," Sept. 2019, https://doi.org/10.1515/dx-2019-0019
  • Singh, H, et al, "The frequency of diagnostic errors in outpatient care: estimations from three large observational studies involving US adult populations," BMJ Quality & Safety, Sept. 2014, doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2013-002627
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In the hospital my mother was given a double dose of blood pressure (bp) meds which put her into the ICU and on a vent. The mistake happened when the hospital accessed her national pharmacy med records which showed two low bp meds – one of which was discontinued but continued to be listed by the pharmacy.

The hospital admitted its mistake, and the family was called and told it did not look good. She recovered and was transferred to a recovery unit, and the med records followed. I went over the meds with them, and they still listed the two low BP meds. Incredible! You need to ASK questions about the meds, and if you do not recognize a med – ask for the generic name. Bring records. Be an advocate for family & friends.

Physicians misdiagnosed my celiac disease for about 30 years. I finally diagnosed it myself. I feel 100% better without gluten or dairy in my system. Is it official? No. But I refuse to eat gluten again so that I can get an official diagnosis. Also, thyroid problems. I had pretty much every symptom of a low thyroid, but the tests were in the normal range. My doctor said there was no problem. I finally gave up and went to a naturapath who said “treat the symptoms not the tests results” and the thyroid pills have made me feel normal again. Sometimes doctors don’t seem to be able to handle things with multiple subtle systems that aren’t easy to resolve.

Medications are not the only misdiagnoses that can result in injury or death. My son’s badly sprained ankle was assumed to be broken (no x-ray) and put in a cast. Three days later, he was in agony and his toes had turned black. The doctor refused to take his calls, telling the receptionist that he was just trying to get pain medications. I took him to the ER, which saved his life. He had several pulmonary embolisms and spent weeks in ICU. He is still crippled because the main veins in his leg are blocked from ankle to hip and his leg swells if he is on his feet for more than a few minutes. The ER doctors said that if we had waited even a few more hours, he would have died. We have since heard from several people with this experience including the wife of a man who died as a result of the same misdiagnosis.

My 49 y.o. healthy brother died of a rare cancer – appendiceal CA which I was told originated in primitive tissue & did not visualize on CT scans. Nevertheless, dozens of CT scans were done & found to be inconclusive. He had severe abdominal pain & was sent home from ER a few times & finally then admitted & had fever when they were planning to d/c him. They found CA on 17/18 lymph nodes & he began on course of chemo treatment. Nothing went as well as the experts predicted it would be & he suffered greatly. He ended up with tube feedings which he courageously managed himself. I believe he received generic treatment for colon ca – not specialized to his specific ca. He died 11 months after diagnosis of SAD. Had state insurance. Feel this may have contributed to mediocre treatment by doctors whom I think should have referred him to specialist. He was a veteran & probably would have gotten BETTER treatment at the V.A. Hospital. Very disappointed w/oncologists he had. Beware! If oncologist not satisfactory, CHANGE! My brother did once but I wish he had done it again!

My regular physician prescribed an eardrop and an antibiotic which cleared it completely.

I’ve experienced several episodes of misdiagnosis and malpractice. I have learned to ALWAYS question and research diagnosis, test results and treatments. When I had severe kidney pain I was told it was in my head. It was actually a rather large group of kidney stones. During surgery the doctor’s hand slipped resulting in a shattered stone. Afterwards he refused to see me again.

An orthopedist did shoulder surgery for a Rotator Cuff Tear and didn’t use a scope which resulted in failed surgery and an additional 4 surgeries to repair but none used a scope and wound up taking bone/muscle rather than admit they couldn’t find the tear.

I found a teaching orthopedist who, using a scope, found 11 additional tears. I had kidney pain for 2 years, kept going to doc to be told it was kidney stones and to load up on Tylenol. 2 yrs later had to have my kidney removed due to cancer.

I kept having chest pain and was told it was anxiety. The pain got so bad I went to ER and was admitted due to having a heart attack. I could go on and on. Doctors took not only my health but my career and almost my sanity.

My friend keeps reminding me that half the doctors graduate in the lower half of their class! I now am terrified of doctors and hospitals. So very grateful to People’s Pharmacy for providing excellent reporting, resources, advocacy and a place to find real world experiences and help. 💓

No doubt that there are diagnostic mistakes. I am a family nurse practitioner and also a patient. I went through 5 years of right sided pelvic pain with multiple specialty consults- it was never diagnosed or treated properly until I found a visceral physical therapist that helped tremendously. She thinks I have an ascending colon adhesion- I have never had surgery. On the other side of the fence- as a provider- I listen intently to my patient’s symptoms and test accordingly but often can not find the source of chronic pain or abdominal complaints. I believe that modern medicine must be coupled with other modalities when caring for complex chronic conditions. I appreciate your newsletters.

More than 20 years ago, I was diagnosed by a Rheumatologist with Lupus, and placed on prednisone. Through my own research, it was my body after all, I contacted others, including pharmacists and 2nd & 3rd doctor opinions. Turned out, CIPRO caused a false positive. This antibiotic has been the worst Rx I have ever taken. From false positive labs, peripheral neuropathy, to lifelong suffering are things I deal with daily. Thank God I pursued answers and did my research!

Folks this is why it is called practicing medicine. The doctor’s are practicing on you! I am seventy four, and over the years I know of so many friends and myself included who have been treated for something they didn’t have. My first was at the young age of nineteen, and the doctor said I had appendicitis. After the surgery I was told it was an infected gland instead but they took out my appendix anyway. I was given intravenous penicillin, and my hand started to swell. I told the nurse and told her to stop the treatment immediately. When the doctor came in he said it was a good thing I had stopped treatment because I was allergic to penicillin. I hadn’t been allergic before but they overdosed me, and since then I have to make sure nothing is related to penicillin because my throat swells, and I can’t swallow.

I have to come out in support of our physicians. I read these comments and it saddens me, truly. My doc makes mistakes too. However, he didn’t go to medical school to kill me, and so far the only sort of doctor who has truly harmed me was a psychiatrist cardiologists sent me to after being unable to find a cause for my suddenly passing out in my 40s. He diagnosed depression (of course) and gave me the same drug that cardiologists use to control a rare heart arrhythmia (a birth defect), which coincidentally I had, but no one knew it. He wasn’t trying to harm me. As they say, “Give someone a hammer and everything looks like a nail.” I had myself taken off the drug a few years, and 50 lbs, later only to pass out driving and almost kill two people–and myself in an accident.

After that, the heart condition was found, but only after a year of searching for it by some of the best doctors in the state who doggedly refused to give up on me.

I’m not in medicine. I am an engineer turned accountant because society gave my career to Asia. However, mistakes or not, medicine is a very inexact science. It can be extremely expense and not yield a lot in useful results. It can kill as others have spoken. But, what are the alternatives? More lawyers to create yet more shortages of medical specialists in states without a cap on malpractice suits? Lawyers getting rich off medical errors when they happen? Insurance companies getting yet more wealthy from a terrified medical community? People refusing to become doctors at all because of society blaming them for mistakes? Then what?

I find no alternative that suits me other than talking to my doctor when a prescription isn’t working, or is working adversely. I’m still young enough at 68 to be the owner of my own health, making the doctor and the pharmacist my teammates. Ibuprofen gives me bad headaches. Oxybutynin (a urinary tract drug) wipes my memory like I have dementia. Opioid pain medications give me insomnia and make turn me into an “asshole on wheels”. That’s my unique physiology. I don’t blame my doctor. We have found those things out the hard way, but (s)he’s a teammate, a human attempting to do good in my life, nothing more.

I hate these medical errors. I understand the difficulty and the pressures of time that we’ve put doctors under is part of the problem. Lawyers and insurance companies seeking wealth like vultures circling potential prey is a big part of the problem. I wish it were different, but I’m not going to demonize the medical profession. I need them the most as I grow older. In the end, they–or nature–will kill me. That’s a fact. But, I’ll not resent their well-intended efforts at trying to do good in this world in spite of all the obstacles and risks they take when doing that.

Blessings to all, and I am sorry for the suffering that exists in our world. Truly I am.

I was misdiagnosed with inflammatory arthritis when I was having a bad reaction to a newer inhaler. I had to go down the stairs on butt because it was initially so bad. It took about 6 months to alleviate. And I would not take anything they prescribed for it. I did inform the FDA of the side effect. I also have Reynauld’s Disease, which caused the swelling in my fingers. This was completely missed. My cancer doctors picked it up although I already knew what it was. They just confirmed it for me.

It has taken at least 10 years to get an accurate diagnosis for my hyperthyroidism. The lack of knowledge from both my PCP and first endocrinologist about this illness has caused me to suffer (and I do mean suffer) from GERD, gout, kidney disease, cardiac artery disease and severe bone pain for many years. I have finally obtained a diagnosis and am scheduled for parathyroid surgery with an expert surgeon and hope to get some relief, but, because of the length of time it has taken to get a proper diagnosis, will likely not get the cure that could have been provided if I had been listened to when my symptoms first began.

My husband had back pain. His MD told him to go to the ER where he was diagnosed with urinary tract infection and put on a month of antibiotics. No relief. He lost 25 pounds and kept declining. We then went to a spine specialist who did an MRI and detected something on his spine. Biopsy was not productive because of the antibiotics. He then was given three months of 2 strong antibiotics IV . When he had last dose he asked for the groshong catheters to be removed. MD could not see him for a week. Husband had to be rehospitalized with fever of 107. He went home on another month of antibiotics.

One of the saddest part about the medical community making serious mistakes is that they often [successfully] attempt to cover it up!
My father was in the hospital and became agitated. The doctor ordered that he be given not one or two, but three different sedating medications. Later that evening he died very unexpectedly from asphyxiation. When we called his room to say good night, and the nurse cooly informed us that our father had expired. A couple of days later, we requested his hospital records, and lo and behold, they were totally MISSING from his file!!!!!

A dear friend of mine was going to a doctor for a persistent cold/upper respiratory problem. He treated her for several weeks with no results. I kept insisting that she go to another doctor because an upper respiratory problem (even pneumonia) should have responded to her medications. She eventually listened to me and received a ‘death sentence’ of advanced lung cancer which had gone untreated for 3/4 months. Needless to say she did NOT survive her misdiagnosis.

My husband was taking Zofran. He started hallucinating (a side effect). None of the nurses who treated him in the ER would listen to me and said no it wasn’t the medication. Finally after he was admitted the floor nurse agreed the medication was the reason for the hallucinations. Frustrating when you realize you know more than the so-called experts.

Years ago when I was taking Premarin birth control pills, I began to lose my usually thick hair. My gyn assured me that Premarin had nothing to do with it. After I went to a hair-loss clinic and began using Minoxidil, I did some research and found that Premarin was indeed the cause. I changed doctors. Years later I saw a dermatologist for unusual redness and chronic scalp itching. A biopsy was done, with the assurance that “We don’t know what it is, but it’s not psoriasis.” As months went by with, again, hair loss, I switched to another dermatologist who took one look and said “It’s psoriasis”. I was treated and now know how to contain oncoming outbreaks.

In the spring of 2016 I got the flu. I went to the doctor (saw a PA only) and had a flu test. It was negative, but my online research indicates that the test has false negative results about 50% of the time. I am elderly and have flu a few times in my life and the symptoms were unmistakeable. I begged for Tamiflu and was refused. It got sicker and sicker and developed pneumonia. I was ill for over a year and still suffer after-effects.

My father was diagnosed with kidney stones. After peeing through a strainer for a couple of months he made a appointment with a urologist in a big city. It was prostrate cancer & was now too late, it had grown beyond the prostate. He died yrs. later when the cancer had spread throughout his body.

My brother was diagnosed with pneumonia. After a couple of months and no improvement he got a second opinion. It was lung cancer & had grown into the heart muscle. It was too late; he died less than a hear later.

My aunt was told the lump in her breast was nothing to worry about. Months later she was diagnosed with breast cancer, too late. She died a year later.

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Do you see a pattern here? It’s almost always women!
I had 2 near death experiences from bad doctors.

First my appendix burst and I was told I had an inner ear infection. She sent me to the hospital for tests because I was crying in pain and immediately sent in a psychiatrist! After an xray in the abdominal area the appendix was discovered. Emergency surgery ensued saving my life.

Second was a perforated colon from my first and only colonscopy. Went to the emergency room and had to wait 3 hours writhing in pain. Another emergency surgery. Lucky I survived these episodes.

Third episode was from a dentist. I complained of pain in a tooth and was told “my mind is playing tricks on me”. Turned out to be a cracked tooth needing root canal.

Women need to be especially carefull because we don’t get the same validation as men.

I was misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and the recommended treatment, high dose Advil, almost killed me. I was bedridden for two months.

The diagnosis was made in the first five minutes by a doctor I had never seen before. He said, “You’re over 60, a woman with joint pain; you have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Take 4 Advil, 4 times daily for 10 days to protect your joints.”

Intuitively, I knew the diagnosis was incorrect, but the joint pain was severe so I took the prescribed Advil. By morning I had swallowed four doses, 16 tablets, and I knew something was wrong. I was sobbing uncontrollably, but not from the pain. I was frighteningly disoriented, and I cried out to my husband, “I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know who I am.” The only change I had made was taking Advil.

I did an internet search for reactions to high dose Advil. It led me to a People’s Pharmacy article which stated that people with a family history of heart disease should NEVER-EVER take high dose NSAIDs (except aspirin). I/we could die of stroke or heart attack in the first week! My doctor never asked me if there was heart disease in my family and we have that in spades.

My symptoms were classic side effects from NSAIDs in people with heart disease in their family:
– agitation
– confusion
– change in vision (my vision is still not completely restored.)
– fever (103.9 for the better part of 6 weeks)
– disorientation
– mood and other mental changes
– lab results show problem with the liver (my enzymes were so high the doctor called in a panic fearing that I had cancer)
– impaired renal function( happens 21% of the time. My nurse practitioner (I never went back to that doctor) thought I might end up with permanent kidney damage.)
– anemia (happens 35% of the time)drop in hemoglobin, happens 10% of the time
– neutrophils elevated
– thrombocythemia, very rare but I had it
Extremely elevated C-Reactive Protein 255.8. Normal range is 0 – 4.9. Anything above 10.0 is of great concern.

It’s been one year since the Advil poisoning. I still have two symptoms that are not yet fully resolved. However, I am healthy again.

My nurse practitioner agreed with my self-diagnosis, Reactive Arthritis, ReA. I found my symptoms on the internet. My hunch is that people with ReA, are misdiagnosed with RA all the time. From my research it seems that Europe recognizes this illness more than in the US. Also, in the US it is typically described as a sexually transmitted illness whereas in Britain it is seen as an intestinal or kidney infection that turns into ReA. My illness began with an undiagnosed kidney infection.

My aunt had a very good friend lived across the street from her. Wife took husband to see physician. Dr., said surgery was needed. Husband had surgery. Wife took husband home several days from hospital. Husband started to complain of pain. Physician did not do anything. Husband found another physician. Oh did he find something? Yes he did! Found that surgeon left several needles inside the patient. Needles were trying to work itself out of body. Physician notified the original surgeon. Husband now is feeling so much better. New physician did not charge the patient. Husband has a new physician. Patient spoke to surgeons office and just told them if bill was sent out to insurance company, he would raise the roof on surgeons and staff. As to the bill, none was submitted to insurance company or patient. Surgeons office had to eat the bill. My question is this? Once a person had surgery does the staff in operation room have to make a count of all of the equipment?

About 5 years ago I felt intermittent symptoms: a stabbing pain in my left ear, and the top of my head felt sensitive, like my hair had been pulled. It didnt go away for a couple of weeks, so I reluctantly visited my PCP. He checked me over and announced “You have temporal arteritis, and you could have a stroke! Let’s draw blood.”

When he left the room, I whipped out my smart phone and saw that 1) I had none of the symptoms; 2) It is diagnosed with advanced imaging, not a blood test. When the nurse came in I asked her why we were taking blood to test for a condition not diagnosed by a blood test. She almost dropped her tray. I left.

Back home, I sat down at my laptop and noticed that the screen position was too high. I adjusted it, the pain went away, and I haven’t had a problem since.

A good diagnostician is worth their weight in gold. That goes for veterinarians too.

I had loosely diagnosed “environmental allergies” for years and was prescribed clarinex and Flonase. Late last winter things got worse: trouble breathing a/c blocked nasal passage, etc. Allergies getting worse? My primary and I decided I should see an Allergist. Lots of expensive tests and drugs, but symptoms got worse. Then saw a Nurse Practitioner: sinus infection: antibiotic. Ten days of that and no improvement; couldn’t get an appt. with her and went to Urgent Care: yes, sinus infection, but you need a stronger antibiotic. That didn’t work either. I then referred myself to an ENT, who told me: this is not a sinus infection, did a biopsy, which diagnosed Lymphoma.

Twice I was misdiagnosed with “take these your ailment is not serious” and ended up with two very serious life threatening operations. I now read and learn, plus now will be more certain to say to a doctor I think misunderstands, “listen to me”

A person that I know well was also a victim of surgical complications after cardiac bypass surgery, then either misdiagnosis after or unawareness of the problem by health care providers. The pain never went away. He complained of “popping and clunking” in his chest. He saw his cardiologist who said everything was fine. He saw his primary care doctor. Also everything ok.

Finally went to an urgent care center two years after the surgery. After a chest x-ray and CT scan the diagnosis was “all chest wires broken. The sternum not fused and remained in two pieces”. But the radiology report said that the x-ray and CT scan were “normal!.” How can this be deemed “normal?”

Finally went back to the cardiac surgeon (his office did not want to give him an appointment until we told them that his chest was in 2 pieces) who actually viewed the x-ray and said “No, not normal. Wires are broken and loose and your sternum is not fused.” Offered to repair it but requires open heart surgery again and the second time around the odds of it getting better are markedly less.

Less than zero sounds like a bad deal to me. Two friends who are cardiac surgeons said “Don’t do it. Too risky.” Now living with constant pain and the risk that one of these wires will puncture a lung or his heart.

One afternoon I left work early because of a severe headache that no headache medicine could touch. After my husband got home from work he took me to an urgent care where the doctor said I had a “stress headache” and gave me a shot of something to relax me. I kept insisting that it was like no other headache I had ever experienced in my life. The next morning I was hospitalized with viral meningitis.

Last October i told my doctor I was so short of breathe..and she told me to go home and use my Dulera inhaler…..well I did..and I was still short of breathe…I had this gut feeling something was really wrong….made an appointment with a Cardiologist…and after a ultra scan…they found three blood clots…one in my left leg..and two in my lungs..!!….They promptly threw me in the hospital for four days…and almost a year later…I am still being treated for blood clots..!!…..And My Doctor…that mis diagnoised my condition…she gets paid wether she is right or wrong !!…;.Thank Goodness..she retired..before she kills someone !!….Including Me..!!

Very, very interesting article. All people in the medical field should have a copy of this article.you know your body better then they do sometimes. You tell them the symptons and they treat you for something different. WRONG.

Great article. Usually problems with your bank or car are more absolute and can be fixed with the proper adjustments. Medical diagnosis on the other hand is a great big gray area. That is because the body was not created by man, but by nature. We do not know even half of the process. The medical field is still a lot of guesswork and not many absolutes. The diagnostic tests themselves are often imperfect. Drugs are used to fill in the cracks but often create their own set of difficulties, many of which there has been no long term studies to determine their possible effects. Because of the complexity of the body and its processes, we likely will never know the exact numbers of how times our medical invasion destroys its mechanics.

And it’s not only death and disability. Six years ago I was misdiagnosed when I had shingles in my eye. The doctor was annoyed that I could not understand her accent and kept asking her to repeat herself. She sent me away quickly with cream for a sty.

I am only glad that I did not lose my sight and do not suffer many after effects from what became a horrible episode. There was much expensive treatment that resulted from the misdiagnosis which the hospital system expected me to pay for. I became, not a patient to be helped, but a risk to be managed and then followed two years of battling with risk management, not customer service, and debt collection.

It is one thing to misdiagnose. It’s another thing to heap the consequences on the patient when we are expending all our energies already in recovering.

Doctors have known all this forever. – – – Sir William Osler, often called the “Father of Modern Medicine”, is reported to have said that it wasn’t until 1900 that your chances of being helped rather than harmed by a visit to a physician rose above fifty-fifty. – – – Have you noticed that pilots and mechanics work with established checklists and protocols? There’s a reason for this: it minimizes mistakes. – – – Doctors, in contrast, rely to a ridiculous extent on whatever happens to come into their heads and on their own experience. It seems obvious that establishing more thorough, research-based, detailed checklists and protocols for responding to particular patient symptoms would greatly diminish medical errors. – Full disclosure: I’m a retired M.D.

At my last annual physical my doctor did not include cholesterol or thyroid on my blood tests. I am on medication for both. I always ask for a written copy of my results for my records. During my visit a copy had not been provided to me. I was told everything was well within normal range. When I finally received a copy my glucose was 120, my GFR was 52. When I messaged my doctor about the glucose being so high he told me not to worry and it wouldn’t be a problem. It has always been normal. We have been watching my kidney function. He told me it had gone up to 58 from the previous year. Well, I was very happy about that.

When I checked, 58 was normal for an African/American person. I am White. My reading was 52. He did correct himself on that. But if I didn’t have a copy of the report I would have never known. When I asked why the thyroid and cholesterol wasn’t tested he had no answer. He just said he hated to send me back to get stuck again for another blood test.

I most certainly have! In 1996 I had flu like illness but with a 104 temp for a time. I was short of breath and very
confused. Finally a chest Xray. Left lobe pneumonia. But I had a severe headache and stiff neck blurred vision. I was experiencing blue lips. On an ER visit a CT showed a cyst on my brain and a spinal tap was done but I was never told what was found. I was on Biaxin, never hospitalized!!!

Still having problems when my GP finally did a lung/ breathing test. Normal is a bell curve. Mine was flat. I was sent to a pulmonary Dr who treated me for weeks with doxycycline. Never could figure it out but recommended I get a good internal medicine Dr. He did some specific tests to figure out out what I had had and it turned out to be Psittacosis.

I got back in touch with pulmonary he dug into records of spinal tap and found that the culture had also been positive for Psittacosis pneumonia with spinal and brain involvement.!!! Im lucky to have survived at all. I do have chronic lung problems.

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