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No one knows your body like you, so chances are, it is easy for you to tell when something is amiss. It may not be so easy, however, to identify the cause of your symptoms, which is why most people facing these circumstances schedule a visit with their physicians.

While you may place a good deal of faith in your doctor and his or her ability to properly diagnose you and recommend a course of treatment, statistically speaking, you may be unwise to do so. Why? According to AARP, American doctors currently misdiagnose about 20% of all serious medical conditions. When diagnoses are incorrect, you run the risk of suffering serious medical complications.

Problems associated with medical misdiagnosis

If your doctor fails to diagnose your condition at all, it can have a significant impact on your overall prognosis. More specifically, say that you have a particular form of cancer and the doctor fails to diagnose it or mistakenly diagnoses it as something else. Under these conditions, your cancer may metastasize or move to other parts of the body, at which point it becomes far more difficult to treat. Similarly, if your doctor diagnoses you with a serious medical condition that requires surgical intervention and his or her diagnosis turns out to be incorrect, you may undergo highly invasive, yet unnecessary procedures that could impact your health in other ways.

How to advocate for yourself

Unless you have extensive medical training, you may be hesitant to second-guess any diagnosis your doctor gives you. For this reason, it is smart to always seek a second medical opinion anytime your physician diagnoses you with something serious or recommends that you undergo any type of invasive regimen to treat it.

Diagnosis is extremely difficult, and while most doctors do not have ill intent when diagnosing patients, the results of medical misdiagnosis often prove devastating nonetheless.