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Why don't some patients get a diagnosis?

Most patients agree that a doctor's job is to find out what's wrong and to treat that condition if possible. When you go to a doctor, your simple question may be, "why am I dizzy?" or "Why does my stomach hurt?" Your doctor may focus on that single symptom, but he or she is also looking at other potential causes.

The issue for many patients is that they start at a primary care or general practicing doctor's office. This is a generalized physician, which means that he or she may not specialize in any particular system in the body. Instead, the physician sends the patient out for tests.

That's when the trouble may begin. First, the patient may be sent for a gastroenterology appointment. There, the doctor is able to tell that patient what he or she does not have, but he or she is not able to tell that patient why he or she is dizzy or why the patient's stomach hurts. The patient goes to see another doctor for a different system in the body, and so on.

Eventually, the patient may find that he or she simply doesn't know what's wrong. There are a few possible causes. First, the gastroenterologist may have missed something. Maybe the patient had the beginning of Celiac disease or was lactose intolerant. Or, perhaps the problem wasn't in the stomach but actually due to a problem with the endocrine system, the one system the primary care doctor didn't think to test.

These are just a few issues that can result in medical malpractice. Missing a diagnosis due to poor test results or the failure to test a patient for all possible conditions can mean some patients fall through the cracks.

Source: Medical Daily, "What am I supposed to do when doctors can't find what’s wrong with me?," Dr. Ben Howell, accessed March 03, 2017

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