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What if the Doctor Is Wrong?

Some Cancers, Asthma, Other Conditions Can Be Tricky to Diagnose, Leading to Incorrect Treatments

From a January 17, 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal

“When a CT scan showed multiple tumors in Dawna Harwell’s pelvis, abdomen and spine in 2008, her doctors in Dallas told her she might have ovarian cancer, which can be especially deadly.

A biopsy came back with inconclusive results, and Ms. Harwell wasted no time in seeking a second opinion at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “I went through every test in the book,” says Ms. Harwell. Still, doctors couldn’t be sure what she had. Finally, she underwent a surgical procedure to diagnose her case: It wasn’t ovarian cancer after all, but a rare form of lymphoma. The 47-year-old horse trainer in Collinsville, Texas, underwent a rigorous regimen of chemotherapy that ended last spring. At her first six-month checkup in October, she received a clean bill of health.

Evidence is mounting that second opinions—particularly on radiology images and pathology slides from biopsies—can lead to significant changes in a patient’s diagnosis or in recommendations for treating a disease. Some malignancies, including lymphomas and rare cancers of the thyroid and salivary glands, are notoriously tricky to diagnose correctly; test results can be inconclusive or return false results…”

(Click the link above to read the complete article)

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Posted in Patient Safety, Uncategorized.

One Response

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  1. skulljockey says

    I think that it is very important for patients to seek as many consultations as needed to formalized/clarify a treatment plan ( just look at NHL superstar Sydney Crosby!).
    However this is a double edged sword.There was a very interesting articlein USA today( 12/01/ 31) about a new publication by Otis Brawley entitled “How we do Harm- a Doctor breaks away about being Sick in America”. In essence, he explains the potential harm that too many tests can do to patients.He claims that one third of CT scans done in the US are not needed and commit the patients to additional risks of radiation. The USA has five times more MRI scanners per capita than Canada yet the USA ranks low among life expectancy in the world with the US ranked 50 and Canada 12. “While we may not be able to give Americans the life expectancy that Canadians have,” Brawley writes, “we can take more pictures of people dying”. Food for thought.

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