Avoid Misdiagnosis - 7 Effective Strategies to Take Control and Decrease Your Odds.

Are you fed up with multiple doctor appointments and ongoing misdiagnoses? Do you trust medical professionals to make the right decision? This post will help you get to an answer faster. You will discover 7 simple tips to take control of your medical care.

According to American Journal of Medicine, general medical misdiagnosis are estimated to be as high as 17%. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) explained that mental health misdiagnosis are estimated to be as high as 98%.

Yowza! Those statistics are high.

The Question

Why are there so many medical misdiagnosis?

We trust medical professionals to figure out (and fix) whatever is wrong. We forget that medicine is complicated and that clinicians are human.

Clinicians are highly trained individuals that diagnose and treat through a very specialized lens. These professionals rely heavily on differential diagnosis to accurately interpret symptoms.

Sometimes one specialist misses what another may see.

Is this phenomenon unusual in a society of clinical specificity?


Therefore, all diagnoses should be made by a team of specialists.

Did you think to yourself, “Sure Robyn, what fantasy world are you living in?"

"What is medical utopia?"

Medical Misdiagnosis

Several years ago, an evil spider took up residence in our home. Or so we thought…

I found a tiny red wound on my thigh that I assumed was a bug bite. It was mildly swollen and sore. It didn’t take long to heal so I didn’t worry about it.

A few weeks later I found another hole in a different place.

This time it grew quickly. It was hot and filled with pus. Shortly thereafter my boyfriend, Brian, began to experience the same symptoms. His wound progressed much faster and he had red lines running away from the 'bite'. We were worried about blood poisoning so he went to an urgent care center.

The MD told him it was an infected spider bite and prescribed antibiotics. It cleared up quickly.

Within a few weeks I found a third wound.

This time I went to the doctor. The MD left the office to retrieve a medical book. She showed me pictures and told me it was a brown recluse spider bite. The images didn't seem to match my symptoms but I didn't say anything.

My slight fear (who am I kidding) of spiders became a minor (major) obsession and I asked Brian to scour the house for spider infestations. He humored me and found a creepy crawly that we unsuccessfully tried to identify on the internet. Convinced we were being invaded by something hellaciously (a technical term) poisonous - I sent it out to an insect identification lab to have it analyzed.

Then I convinced Brian to bomb the house.

Meanwhile, Brian and I took turns with “bites” number 4, 5 and 6.

Each was increasingly worse than the last. Number 4 was just below his right knee causing intense pain and a limp.

Number 5 was on the back of my thigh. Any pressure on the wound was excruciating. Sitting was complicated.

We read up on how to handle infected bug bites. Soak it in warm water, allow the puss to drain...blah...blah...blah.

Number 6 was on my arm. By this time, having no success searching the internet for the type of spider would cause this type of reaction. I started searching for our symptoms rather than the cause and a completely different diagnosis emerged.

This time I went to the doctor armed with questions and a possible diagnosis.

I asked if it could be MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). She was receptive to this idea and did a culture.

Ding, ding, ding - we have a winner! Because MRSA is highly contagious, we had been giving it back and forth to each other for months.

Had I had the guts to discuss my thoughts with the MD earlier, we may have spared ourselves months of recurring pain.

Maybe this misdiagnosis is less common now.

Because in preparation for this blog post I re-googled spider bite infections and found an article describing the difference between spider bites and MRSA. The article stated “In recent years, however, MRSA can be commonly found in community settings such as schools, gyms, health spas, and even nail salons. So maybe this misdiagnosis is less common now.

Mental Health Misdiagnosis

Now consider the following scenario - Maria has 2 checkups scheduled and an appointment with her therapist.

First she tells her gynecologist (GYN) that she is always tired and her periods are heavy and irregular.

At the next appointment, she explains to her general practitioner (GP) that she is tired and unusually cold (but doesn't mention the irregular menstruation).

Later in the week she tells her social worker (SW) that she is always tired and isn't motivated to do anything.