JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (KFSN) --Each year in the U.S., roughly 12,000,000 adults are misdiagnosed, according to a study in the journal BMJ quality & safety. That's about one out of 20 adult patients, and researchers say in half of those cases the misdiagnosis has the potential to result in severe harm.
When 25-year-old Chelsey Gabrielson was first told that her tremors and slurred speech were nothing more than anxiety and depression, she knew in her heart it was more.
She told Ivanhoe, "I have been to so many doctors and have been treated, in my opinion, poorly."
It took more than seven years of being misdiagnosed before Gabrielson learned she had a rare neurological disease, called Moyamoya. It affects blood flow to the brain causing brain damage. Unfortunately, stories like hers happen in hospitals and clinics every day.
Benjamin Brown, MD, neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville said, "Don't be afraid to go get a second opinion."
Doctor Benjamin Brown is the neurosurgeon now treating Gabrielson. He advises patients who aren't getting answers to keep a hard copy of all of their medical records ... don't rely on your doctor to pass them along.
He explains, "It happens sometimes but it's very difficult for hospitals to reliably communicate with each other."
If your doctor uses electronic medical records, you can even ask for a copy of their notes. One study found that rushed doctors are one of the main causes of being misdiagnosed, so make a written list of your symptoms and concerns to make your visit efficient. But Gabrielson and her family say, the best thing you can do is trust your instincts and don't give up on your own health care.
One study showed that the symptoms doctors most frequently miss or misdiagnosed that turned out to be more serious were cough, abdominal pain and shortness of breath.