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When Doctors Give a Diagnosis without Adequate Testing

Posted Sep 16 2011 9:49pm
  • Many times parents and others have told me that a doctor has given them a dignosis after just a brief examination and without any tests being done. The worst times are when the diagnosis is one for which there is no treatment. Often parents have come to me saying they were told that their child had Duchenne muscular dystrophy or another potentially fatal disease. One orthopedist told a parent several years ago that her child had Duchenne muscular dystrophy by just checking him for muscle weakness and watching him get up from the floor. The boy exhibited what is called a Gower's sign that means he had to push himself up from the floor with his hands on his knees. The doctor told the mother that nothing could be done. This mother still has nightmres about that day. It turned out the child had dermatomyositis which responded beautifully to steriod treatment. Another doctor told a mother over the telephone on a Friday night that her son most likely had Hodgkin's disease. He also was wrong becasue the boy had infectious mononucleosis. Thus, a second opinion by an expert in a particular disease is needed with appropriate testing or a muscle biopsy if that is necessary.
  • The other side of the coin is when a doctor has no idea what a diagnosis might be and orders an incredible number of tests just to cover all the possibilities. One woman asked me to review her medical records after multiple tests had been done and I was appallled at what the doctor had ordered. The tests covered many possibilities and had nothing to do with a specific diagnosis. I was able to find just the right specialist for her and a specific diagnosis was made for a condition that was treatable. So if you have any doubts about what a doctor tells you, I would always get a second opinion.


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