“But I had my medical test, and got my ‘happy gram’… How can I have cancer?” 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed every year. Oftentimes, it is up to the patient and their family members to follow their instincts to get to a correct diagnosis. What would have happened if Chiqeeta had not followed through with her instincts and knowledge of her own body? Upon her diagnosis for her aggressive breast cancer, it may have been too late to give her a chance of survival. A false negative is a medical test result that indicates a person does not have a disease, or condition when the person actually does have it, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). False negative test results can occur in many different medical tests, from tests for pregnancy, tuberculosis or Lyme disease to tests for the presence of drugs or alcohol in the body. Conversely, a false positive test result indicates that a person has a specific disease or condition when the person actually does not have it. Both a false negative and a false positive can lead to a wrong diagnosis, a critical delay in the right treatment for the right disease, and in some cases even death. “A false negative is when a test reveals favorable news that contradicts empirical evidence. Conversely, a false positive occurs when an incorrect unfavorable condition is reported. One might assume that results from a million-dollar piece of equipment would represent an authoritative conclusion. Quality of the imaging coils put around the body part being scanned and the computer programs used to control the imaging and to analyze the images are important. But perfectly tuned equipment is only as reliable as the person who views the images and prepares the report. Unless it is of considerable volume, a mass detected on an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan is often a dot requiring a judgment call. Determining whether a dot is an anomaly depends upon the skill, experience and alertness of the technician.” ~Kevin RR Williams, www.clinicalposters.com, How Accurate is an MRI Report
In Chiqeeta’s case, the wrong (and yet standard) medical screening tool was used to detect her cancer. This is a perfect example of how medical technology can fail. However, in the world of cancer (where screening is not perfect) some screening is better than no screening. Keep the mammogram, breast self-exam, and other screening tools such as a colonoscopy (the only cancer screening tool that can stop cancer before it starts through the removal of pre-cancerous polyps) on your calendar. However, regardless of the consideration of the results, listen to your body and be certain that you are comfortable and secure in your health. If the lump doesn’t go away and seems to be changing, it may not be just a cyst—whether it is in your breast or elsewhere on your body. If you’ve been told that everything okay, but the symptoms haven’t gone away…follow-up and keep speaking up until you have a diagnosis you feel confident is the right one. We all need to be cognizant of what we do to protect and support our healthy body every day—including our dream instincts! We are all busy individuals, but your health is always priority one. Your survival may depend on finding a doctor (such as Dr. Kelly) who is aware of the most up-to-date research and technologies in medicine. If Chiqeeta had not been vigilant in her medical care, she might not have lived to tell her story. Author’s Notes: Written by Joni Aldrich, Pulitzer prize nominated author, speaker, radio program host and producer, cancer, caregiving, and patient safety advocate. Contributions by Graham Whiteside, Vice President of Sales and Marketing SIMnext LLC, and Chris Jerry, founder and CEO of The Emily Jerry Foundation (www.emilyjerryfoundation.org) and international patient safety advocate.
Published on Jul 29, 2017