My mother, who's a nurse, always says, "Self-diagnosis can be the best form of diagnosis."
That's not to say people can sense that they have cancer or a specific kind of illness, but that we generally know what's happening to our bodies.
For instance, a friend of mine complained of stomach pain for months, and every doctor she visited would prescribe her anxiety medication.
She told them that she felt some stress with her new job, but that it wasn't anything abnormal that would require her to take drugs.
After months of agonizing pain, it turned out she had a large colon polyp. Her recovery time was doubled all because doctors misdiagnosed her on several visits.
In my friend's case, she knew something was wrong, and that it wasn't anxiety. You'd think you would know that you're anxious!
Anxiety seems to be the diagnosis many doctors fall back onto. If a patient is displeased by that diagnosis, doctors will usually send them to see a specialist.
However, that may be too late in some cases.
Simon Willans complained to a doctor and nurse that he suffered from shortness of breath and dizziness, and was diagnosed with low blood pressure and anxiety.
He was told to come back in the morning, but that was too late...
A Fatal Misdiagnosis
The 42-year-old man shortly collapsed at his parents's home and died on the way to the hospital.
His family was shocked by the hospital's inability to diagnose Willans correctly, and an inquest was launched to get to the bottom of what went wrong.
The doctor who had seen Willans, Lloyd Evans, said he felt like something "unusual" was going on with the patient and requested to have him admitted that day, but the hospital was "very busy and asked if referral would be more appropriate."
“I can’t give them all Heparin (an anticoagulant) in case they have a clot,” he told North West Wales senior coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones. ”I would have preferred him to be seen that day but I compromised on him being seen the next morning.”
Pathologist Mark Lord said Willans's showed signs of a blood clot that were missed by doctors. He noted that the patient's right calf was swollen, caused by deep vein thrombosis.
“If recognized before death, anticoagulant treatment is effective," he said.
The inquest is still ongoing, and the coroner hopes to issue a report to prevent future deaths.
As hospitals and doctors offices get busier every year, we hear more horror stories. For example, a mother and her young daughter were turned away from the doctor's office because they were 10 minutes late to their appointment, and the little girl died shortly after from an asthma attack.
There even have been cases where children have died because doctors thought their mothers were being "paranoid" about their symptoms.
If you're worried about your health, the best way to ensure you get the best care is to know the signs of common illnesses.
Blood clots can be easily treated, but it's up to you to be able to notice the symptoms...
How To Identify A Blood Clot
You can get a blood clot from remaining immobile for long periods of time. These blood clusters can develop in the deep veins of your leg, and can be deadly, if left untreated.
Here are five signs that you may have a blood clot and need to seek immediate medical attention:
1. Bulging veins
A blood clot will show itself by putting pressure on the surrounding veins, causing them to bulge, and sometimes even rupture. In that case, you'll notice bruising.
2. Dizziness and shortness of breath
Willans was complaining of dizziness and shortness of breath, which could be a sign of many illnesses, but if this feeling is accompanied by any of the other symptoms on this list, it's likely that it's caused by a blood clot.
3. Foot and leg pain
Anything that goes amiss in your body will result in pain. If walking or rising your legs doesn't help, you need to see a doctor immediately.
4. Skin discoloration
If any part of your leg starts to turn red, and remain that way, then you may have a blood clot. If other parts of your leg, like your feet, become pale and feel cold to the touch, it's a sign that there's a lack of blood flow and blood is jammed up somewhere in the upper part of your leg.
Once the blood clot goes into the blood stream, one might feel a slight elevation in body temperature, accompanied by sweating or shivering.
Have you ever been misdiagnosed by a doctor?