What are the doctors not telling you

What you should never tell your doctor

If doctors make wrong diagnoses or overlook diseases, it can have fatal consequences for the patient. Often there are emotional traps behind these wrong decisions that doctors fall into. There are ways that patients can protect themselves from this.

Once again Michael Peters suffers from upper abdominal pain and decides to see a doctor. The last time he had these symptoms he was diagnosed with gastritis. He therefore begins the conversation with the doctor with the words: "I must have my gastritis again." This is followed by an examination, laboratory tests, ultrasound. Then, assuming the suspected gastritis, he is prescribed 20 milligrams of pantoprazole (inhibits gastric acid production in inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract). At the next appointment, the abdominal pain disappeared, the laboratory results are normal, including the ultrasound findings. Six months after this event, the patient is diagnosed with metastatic gastric cancer. You would have this with a haemoccult test (for early detection of colon cancer) be able to diagnose half a year earlier. It is possible that no metastases had formed at that time. A clear mistake by the doctor - which the patient could possibly have prevented.


The thought traps


Three ways to misdiagnose

Fifteen percent of all diagnoses - in Europe as in America - are misdiagnoses, a Munich study showed. In plain language: If I go to the doctor seven times, I will be treated incorrectly one arithmetically. "We doctors take shortcuts when thinking, especially when we are pressed for time," says Harvard professor Jerome Groopman. And neuroscientists found out in a study: Of around 180 serious diagnostic errors (one third of which were fatal), in 80 percent of the cases, three misconceptions on the part of the treating physicians played a decisive role:


1. Premature diagnosis

Doctors are often satisfied with the closest explanation without investigating further causes or checking the first impression against the background of further information. Neuroscientists speak of anchors - one hooks on a salient feature of a state of affairs and only concentrates on it. The result: a premature conclusion of the diagnosis.


2. Concentration on the familiar

Doctors generally orientate themselves on the classic symptoms of illness. Brainwave measurements showed that more recognition significantly influences their decisions.


3. Blindness to the exception

According to the motto "what I do not know, I cannot see", many doctors fail to follow up Researching rare diseases when a common diagnosis fits the symptoms. Groopman: "If these mistakes could be avoided, the death rate would be much lower."


The patient offensive


Why Doctors Need Help

But how can you prevent the doctor from making a misdiagnosis? "Patients should connect with me in a way that keeps me from falling into a thought trap," says Jerome Groopman, giving four ways to get there. First:


Be personable

Doctors have to empathize with the patient, and empathy also depends on sympathy. A friendly facial expression, gesture and voice trigger pleasant feelings in our counterpart: you stay relaxed, feel confirmed and also react with friendly behavior. Studies examining the relationship between liking or antipathy and communication behavior show that doctors treat patients they do not like worse, do not allow them to finish speaking and fix themselves on a convenient diagnosis at an early stage.


Stay open-minded

In no case, the patient should anticipate the diagnosis because his complaints remind him of past illnesses. Because at that moment the doctor only fixes on this possibility (anchor) and does not consider alternatives. But the body always thinks up something new. It's like a coin: even if nine tosses result in heads, the probability of the tenth toss is only 50 percent. The same applies to medicine: if the stabbing headache was a migraine nine times, the probability that the tenth pain attack is also a migraine is only 50 percent.


Describe your case dramatically

Researchers sent migraine patients to 52 general practitioners' offices. These women reported to the doctors that they had severe headaches for days. Half of them remained factual with this report, the other half were anxious with the same medical history and sprinkled in sentences like: "I am terribly afraid". Because feelings are contagious, the anxiety patients were talked to ten minutes longer and they were referred to a specialist eight times more often than the sober ones, where the doctors concentrated on the usual and prescribed the usual medication.


Make sure you are taken seriously

In Boston, a woman has seen 30 doctors in fifteen years. She was becoming increasingly emaciated. The doctors certified that she had an eating disorder. They assumed that she was secretly vomiting. She disagreed. Only the last doctor took her at her word, looked for and found the cause: the woman suffered from celiac disease. She was allergic to gluten, which is found in many foods. "This fate shows that the patient has to make it clear to the doctor: I am telling the truth and want to be taken seriously by you," says Jerome Groopman. His credo: "We just have to listen to the patient and he'll tell us the diagnosis. Because his medical history contains the crucial information - I have to listen to this in order to understand what's wrong with him." The problem: studies show that doctors interrupt patients describing their symptoms after an average of 18 seconds. In this short time, doctors have already formed an opinion about what is missing in the patient and which therapy is indicated. A "please let me finish" or "I want you to listen to me now" is therefore often enough to protect the doctor from making a mistake in reasoning with serious consequences.


Why pancreatitis is often misdiagnosed

At Doctors assume gastritis in 70% of all cases of upper abdominal pain. If the pain radiates into the back in a belt shape, it is usually a pancreatitis.


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When high blood pressure can hide behind neck pain

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