When you go in to see your doctor, you probably assume that he or she will be giving you the right diagnosis when you leave. But, many people are finding that it’s not that easy. Here’s what you can do to help your doctor out and save yourself some money.
Tell The Whole Story
Make sure you can tell your entire story. According to this diagnosis infographic, when a doctor knows your full background, it makes it much easier to piece together the diagnostic puzzle. For example, a mysterious coughing problem could be anything. But, if your doctor knows that you used to work in construction, he might start tests to check for asbestos or the early signs of mesothelioma.
If you were or are a smoker, he will know how to proceed.
Both patient histories produce very different diagnoses.
Ask Your Doctor These Three Questions
Sometimes, doctors miss things or don’t place enough emphasis on certain aspects of your medical history. Ask them:
- “Is there anything in my history that wouldn’t fit into your current diagnosis?”
- “What else could this possibly be?”
- “Is it possible that I could have more than one thing wrong with me?”
These three questions “nudge” your doctor to think more deeply about your case and possible alternative causes.
Verify Unusual Test Results
Roughly 3 to 5 percent of lab results return false positives or negatives. A vial of blood can become contaminated or an imaging test may not be properly calibrated. Biopsies could become jumbled up with another patient’s results.
If you receive something totally shocking or unusual, demand that you receive followup testing just to confirm the diagnosis.
The Pych Factor In Doctor-Patient Relationships
Sometimes, it’s not about the labs and symptoms. Sometimes, it’s about patient-doctor chemistry. Not everyone gets along. You should feel comfortable talking to your doctor about your medical problems. And, your doctor should have a certain amount of compassion and interest in you. He or she should be interested in what you have to say.
Most doctors who really care will ask you to back up to a time when you felt perfectly well and then go from there, discussing major changes or events which might have led to your current state. Often times, the patient learns right along with the doctor. Sometimes, the doctor might surprise you with an unusual diagnosis – one that fits but one that you might never have guessed.
Allow For The Possibility That Your Doctor Doesn’t Know
We tend to think of doctors as gods, but they’re human, just like you. They make mistakes and they don’t always have the answer. Don’t push for a definitive diagnosis when your doctor seems unsure. He might tell you that he doesn’t know and that more tests are needed or that he’s at the limit of his expertise.
Accept it and opt for a specialist or another doctor if you just have to know. Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral. Most doctors are happy to accommodate.
Mark Jenson has worked in the sharp end of public health services for many years. He enjoys sharing his research and insights online through blogging.