Fearing a Wrong Diagnosis

People from all background, race and ethnic origins migrate from one country to another; to better their living conditions or just explore other parts of the world. As we go through life, we are pulled in every direction and our health fails us here and there. People get sick; some get infected through person to person contact due to our constant travel around the globe; others were born with incurable health conditions or better yet illnesses that are unknown to many. Every family is faced with the challenge that at least one person in each household has some sort of health condition. These health conditions may range from cancer, arthritis, Wiskott – Aldrich syndrome, brain tumor to list a few. Pointless to add, many of these diseases usually touch children who are unable to comprehend the effect of their health condition on their life expectancy.

A parent of a child with wiskott disease for example is powerless as there is so little she or he can do to help. Wiskott disease is an immunodeficiency disease hindering the body owns defense mechanism unabling it to protect itself from infections or bacteria. Children with this condition have prolonged nosebleed, bleeding gums and blood on their stools. These children are prone to head injury reason why they are required to wear helmet to protect them from head injury. It is not uncommon for someone to be given a wrong diagnosis and to undergo massive health treatment, just to find out that, what they thought, they had to start with, is not so. I have seen countless of people provided wrong diagnosis over the years and I have seen their pain, anger, frustrations and relief when the diagnosis was deemed untruth. I have seen X-ray and MRI providing invalid results to many patients. After a while I started wondering about the credibility of such technology.

I must say, we have come a long way since the 70s but we are still keeping amongst doctors those who should not be called such. It is inadmissible for a provider to blurb out diagnosis that they are not sure of it accuracy. Nonetheless, we should not forget, we have fantastic doctors’ whose love and passion for providing care and hope to patients’ surpasses all. These doctors take the time to listen to their patients, run series of tests and analysis before providing any diagnosis. It is OK to tell a patient, the results aren’t conclusive and to submit to more test before providing them with a life changing diagnosis. For many years, I knew Carlos whose life was changed when he was diagnosed in 1995 with a brain tumor; he was told that his chance for survival was little to none. Carlos then 30 years old took out his life savings, gave his life stocks away and moved to a secluded area to wait for his death. For 3 months he was a total wreck wondering why now? Why him? He looked into his family history to see if anyone in his family had a history of brain tumor.
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He knew somehow that he did not have the risk factors that may have predisposed him to a brain tumor; except that he was male. He scratched his head many times to see why he was given this type of diagnosis.

During this period, he was clueless and did not know too many ways in dealing with the illness. He decided to travel abroad to Canada to change the scenery of his life and to free his head from obscure thoughts. Carlos met a doctor as he dines in a Canadian restaurant one day, sitting alone on his table, visibly exhausted and frustrated. The doctor approached his table concerned of his sudden pale face and body expressions he was displaying. He inquired about his well-being and offered a helping hand. Carlos hesitant at first was more willing to talk to the doctor when he found out he was a neurosurgeon. Dr Isaac introduced himself to Carlos and made him an appointment to his office a week later. Carlos was weary and did not see the importance a visit to Dr Isaac will do. He wanted the pain he was experiencing inside to fade away.

However, Carlos kept his appointment and was set to have another CT scan of his brain. Hesitant of the new results, Carlos spend nights locked in the dark of his hotel room refusing the hotel cleaning team access. Dr Isaac took upon himself to look for Carlos and to show him the new results. He made unsuccessful attempts to get Carlos to come meet with him at the clinic. Eventually, he got in his car and drove to Carlos’ hotel to tell him he was tumor free. He explained to him he believed the CT scan used was defective, reason why he was provided a wrong diagnosis.

Dr Isaac explained that it wasn’t unusual for a machine to give different results for the same patient. He added that healthcare providers are recommended to service these machines often to avoid unnecessary diagnosis and so cut the cost of medical liability lawsuits. It becomes necessary nowadays for healthcare providers to focus on establishing high level of credibility to ease the pain that an erroneous diagnosis creates on the persons involved.

Given that the technology is evolving, it is commendable to educate patients carefully of the threat that a diagnosis can have in their lives. Thus, it is imperative to accustom them with tools necessary to build knowledge of diseases and risks factors as well as develop their own self-awareness of the many illnesses. Needless to add that on the wake of a wrong diagnosis, one should catalyze the fear associated with the unknown to influence others to seek different opinions before throwing out the window their lifelong savings.

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