Monday, March 9, 2015

Diagnosis and Being A Patient

I am going to write a series of posts on diagnosis, over diagnosis, and then over treatment. This is the first one. I plan to write the others soon but make no promises on how soon.
When you go to the doctor with a symptom, to my non-medical school educated brain, they start by asking a few questions and then proceeding with weeding out the most frequent and most possible and eventually get to a diagnosis.

A sore throat - is it from coughing, allergies, strep, acid reflux, several other options, and finally possible cancer? Probably not cancer so we shouldn't think it is at first even with a history of cancer. Cancer people get the same ailments as other people.  It takes a bit to get through the process of elimination to get from the first to last. And a medical professional will give advice on what to do to get better.And we need to do our part in cooperating and not demanding extra tests and treatments.

Right now, for example, we have problems with antibiotic resistant germs because antibiotics were over-prescribed. As patients we need to do our part and not demand medications and tests we do not need. A sore throat may not be strep and can be determined as that through a visual exam. Antibiotics do not help viruses so don't request them. We need to believe our medical professionals when they tell us what is wrong with us and follow their instructions if we hope to get better quickly.

If we don't follow their instructions, we won't get better. Here's an example: Someone I know had a sore upper arm that wouldn't go away for months. He went to the doctor for his annual physical and the doctor said some kind of strain, go to PT. The next year he went back to the doctor for his next physical and the doctor asked about his arm, which still hurt. Then he finally did agree to go to PT and his arm stopped hurting.

But if we do follow their instructions and do not get better that becomes another story. This is when the diagnosis process can take more investigation and lead to a more serious diagnosis.

In addition, we need to be mindful of medical expenses and costs - just because we do not pay for something because it is covered by our insurance, the cost is still felt - maybe by higher premiums later on. If a doctor tells us what is wrong, we usually do not need to question them. There is no need to doubt them, unless we have a reason.

As patients, we need to work with, not against, our medical team. Take their advice and work with it. Accept their diagnosis and go with their treatment. Unless there has been a problem in the past, in which case that's another story.
So to my non-medical school brain, this is the basics of diagnosis. I will write more on over-diagnosis soon.

1 comment:

Donald said...

I love your approach to informing the public about BC. Would love to have you involved in our BC doc. film Down To Zero.

I Started a New Blog

I started this blog when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Blogging really helped me cope with my cancer and its treatment. Howe...