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In terms of your health, does practice make perfect?


No matter your physical condition, when you experience pain or symptoms outside of what is normal for your body, you consult a medical doctor.

Although they trained for years to become licensed to practice medicine, a physician has the ability to make errors.

In some cases, a provider may misdiagnose you. And lacking an accurate understanding of your condition, you or your loved one could suffer needlessly due to an inappropriate, or limited, treatment plan.

A misdiagnosis can decrease your quality of life

Just as every misdiagnosis is different, so is the outcome.

In some cases, you could helplessly witness the deterioration of a loved one, which may not have occurred with a proper diagnosis. In other instances, you could continue to unknowingly pass a genetic disease from one generation to the next.

An example of this is one Californian man’s misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). Although his symptoms and test results suggested similarities to MS, oddities remained. Still, multiple neurologists confirmed his MS diagnosis, due to his:

  • Frequent, intense headaches
  • Darkened peripheral vision
  • Numbness in his upper extremities

Patchy white clouds were also present on the MRI of the man’s brain. As the man’s condition worsened, his behavior became erratic, which resulted in disability leave.

Common symptoms of MS may be indicative of a genetic disorder

Eventually, another physician confirmed the man did not have MS. Rather, he had CADASIL, a rare genetic disorder. Common symptoms of CADASIL include migraine headaches, stroke, psychiatric disturbances and cognitive impairment due to damage to the blood vessels within the brain.

Currently, there is no cure or treatment for CADASIL. However, a proper diagnosis can allow doctors to make recommendations to improve a patient’s quality of life. This might include suggestions such as aspirin for stroke prevention or avoiding specific vasoconstrictors which are not recommended for those with CADASIL.

Advocate for your health care

Since doctors’ experience varies, trust your instincts when questions about your health arise. If something does not seem right to you, ask for another opinion or referral to a specialist.

Physicians often have a limited amount of time to spend with each patient. Not only can this lead to misdiagnosis, but it can also increase harm to you as a patient.

While doctors “practice” medicine, you may agree that receiving a misdiagnosis is unacceptable. And if a provider misdiagnosed you or your loved one, you may be wise to hold them accountable.