While the clichés about making assumptions tend to be accurate, the field of medicine is full of them. Doctors may assume your symptoms add up a certain way, or they may assume that the treatment that works on most patients will work for you, too.
Unfortunately, doctors cannot know everything. Your medical history may be incomplete, or you may have an unknown allergy to the treatment you are about to receive.
Some assumptions are an honest mistake; others can be avoided with greater care. Here’s what can happen when your doctor jumps to the wrong conclusion.
Assumptions function similar to creating categories. They can speed thought-processing with batches of information. While assumptions can help people in all fields make faster decisions, making assumptions about the wrong subjects can have devastating consequences.
A recent review of Parkinson’s and other related diseases showed that men were more likely to get a Parkinson’s diagnosis, while women received a diagnosis of hysteria, even though they had the same symptoms. Unfortunately, the two diagnoses receive very different treatments resulting in women getting worse as the disease progresses.
What to watch for
Going to the doctor can be intimidating. They are supposed to be the expert who can help you with your symptoms, and it can be challenging to speak up.
It is essential to advocate for yourself if your doctor’s first diagnosis does not seem like it fits. Make sure your doctor understands your symptoms and what you are feeling. Remember, if it seems like your doctor is making a false assumption about the meaning of your symptoms get a second opinion.