For centuries, the challenge facing human beings, and therefore medicine, has been to extend our life expectancy. Some studies carried out in recent decades remind us that the more years we live, the more the economic cost to healthcare systems increases.
On top of all this, the rate of diagnostic error has reached significant numbers in many advanced countries. We must keep in mind that these types of errors (still all too common) end up affecting, one way or another, not only the doctor-patient relationship, but also the level of spending of individual governments and administrations.
By way of an example, in the U.S., the rate of diagnostic error is currently, according to some published studies, between 15% and 28% of all cases. It is a situation, which particularly affects patients with multiple chronic conditions.
The key question is how to reduce the number of diagnostic errors
In view of this scenario, which obviously affects us all, we should ask ourselves what we can do to solve the problem from all angles: medical professionals, the government and institutions and, of course, from the side of the patients.
In order to start to amend the problem, we, as patients, should ask our doctor a lot more questions and lose the fear of looking for a second opinion. It is true that it is not always easy and that the lack of knowledge about minimum medical issues can put us in an uncomfortable position. In the same way as we make sure to look for more than one school for our children in order to make the best decision, we should be able to get access to a second doctor’s opinion who can confirm an initial diagnosis of our disease. In doing so, we will be able to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that no errors, however small, are being made in relation to our health.
If we put the spotlight on policy makers, a possible solution would be for the governments to encourage the hospitals and medical centres to have a tighter control over the cases of misdiagnosis. This control could be carried out with a specific data collection that would allow contrasting problems and preventing the ever-increasing number of cases of misdiagnosis.
Doctors need more time
With regard to the system itself, it should be transformed in such a way that the doctors could spend more time with their patients. This is a complaint that is repeatedly made among the healthcare professionals, and solving this problem would improve the doctor-patient relationship that is today based on those few minutes that doctors can afford to devote to each patient as a result of overcrowding in the waiting rooms.
If, between all of us, we manage to reduce the number of diagnostic errors, we will truly begin to live not only longer, but better as well. At Best Doctors, we encourage you to become more aware of the importance of early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and to look for, whenever it is needed, a second medical opinion from the world’s best professionals.