If your doctor has made a wrong diagnosis, then obviously your treatment is going to be incorrect, and you’re not going to get better.

“There is now abundant evidence that delayed or missed diagnoses are widespread and that in more than 50% of such cases there are serious adverse outcomes.”1

The most common cause of misdiagnosis is what is called “premature closure.”2 In this scenario, the doctor just closes his mind to any new alternatives once he’s decided on a diagnosis. This can be very dangerous for the patient.

What can you do when your doctors don’t rethink their original diagnosis?

Understand that this can happen, so that you don’t take every word that comes from doctors as if it were gold. And since doctors often can’t spot their mistakes, then you may need to give some direction when you feel things aren’t right. You need to be able to say “that doesn’t sound right,” or “I’m not getting better and I want us to rethink this,” or “something just isn’t right–what other tests do we need to see if it’s something different?”

Sometimes it is even necessary to seek out a different doctor and present your case as “new”. So many times if a doctor hears the previous diagnosis, he just closes his mind and you don’t get a fresh look.

Studies, Footnotes and Resources:

  1. Croskerry, Pat G. Letters: “Prescribing Powers for Pharmacists.” Canadian Medical Journal 176(1) (2007): 67
  2. Groopman, Jerome. How Doctors Think: New York, New York: Houghton Miffin Company, 2007, p. 39