Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Allergies are particularly prone to misdiagnosis but, the truth is, as you can see in the infographic below, misdiagnosis is a common problem.

Part of this, I believe, is that doctors play the game of statistics. They are looking for the ordinary, what they see most frequently. In general, they get it right (19 out of 20 times). But, what if you are that one?

James was diagnosed by his first pediatrician with lactose intolerance, based on symptoms and statistics. Once he had that diagnosis, it was used by every doctor he saw to explain his frequent diarrhea and cramping. I was obviously not being careful enough with his diet. Eventually, I couldn't stand it anymore and removed all dairy, in all forms, from his diet and discovered for myself that lactose intolerance was not the problem.

Unfortunately, his gastrointestinal problems are returning. In talking to Dr. Li, explaining to her why he was misdiagnosed for so long, she said, "But of course you were careful enough!"

And truly, I was. Not that I can't make mistakes, but I didn't make nearly a decade of mistakes. I should have advocated, both for myself and for James, to get more testing and intervention sooner.

And honestly, I need to keep this in mind, because I am not convinced we have reached the end of his diagnostic tangles.
Adventist University of Health Sciences

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