February 2019
Diagnostic Improvement: Getting the Right Diagnosis
February 2019

​​​Help Your Healthcare Providers Diagnose You Correctly

Keep track when you start to feel off.

As a patient, you play a very important role in getting an accurate and timely diagnosis. Before you see your healthcare providers, make a symptom diary and create a timeline. Write these down in a notebook. Knowing when your symptoms started could be important. Make note of things like:

  • Where are the symptoms located?
  • What makes them better or worse?
  • Are there times of the day when they are better or worse?
  • Have you tried anything to make the symptoms better?  Did it help?

Share anything they may need to know.

Tell your healthcare providers the whole story no matter how minor you think the symptoms might be. If you act like nothing is wrong, your healthcare providers might do the same.

Keep records of all medical tests and notes from doctor visits. Share this information with other healthcare providers that you are seeing.

Always bring your list of medications and medical issues with you to your visit or when hospitalized.

Find someone who will listen.

Find healthcare providers who are willing to listen to you carefully. Tell them if you think something is important. Offer your own suggestions. You know your body best.

Bring someone with you to hear what the healthcare providers are saying in case you do not understand or forget.

Recognize that diagnosis is a process and your healthcare providers may not always be certain about your diagnosis right away. Ask your healthcare providers, "What else could it be?" to better understand what other diagnosis they think it might be.

Speak up!

Always ask questions if you do not understand something. Ask your healthcare providers to speak in words that you understand.

If you have tests performed, call your healthcare providers for the results. Never assume no news is good news.

For More information, please visit our Patient Safety Topic on Diagnostic Improvement.​