When Patients Self-diagnose

WebMD. It’s pretty much the #1 enemy for nurses treating a spooked (and sometimes snappish) patient with a reliable Wi-Fi connection and a previous search that reads: What do I have if…

But hey—at least they’ve come to the right place to really find out, right? And that’s where you come in.

Nurse Mendoza discusses patients who self-diagnose, and how to respond to them calmly, compassionately, and confidently.

Have a favorite “self-diagnosis” that you’ve stumbled upon while on the job? From the “way off” to the “way out there,” share your story with us in the comments section below!


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8 Responses to When Patients Self-diagnose

  1. Jcaruso

    It’s not an ulcer it’s a sore. I just put baby powder on it.

  2. onlyme

    Well, there is always the balance between a patient needing to respect professional advice; but also for the patient to learn basic facts from how the body feels. These should ideally complement rather than contradict each other.

  3. suze1942

    I’m a retired nurse. Seems to me recent visits with NP,Dr etc they aren’t asking assessment type ?? They’re asking me..”what do you think is the problem?” Also they may be time constrained but I’d appreciate questions and ideas to implement a care plan I can use.
    Last yearly visit for osteoporosis, NP listened? to some of the problems I had with high calcium and Still wasn’t getting much improvement, I left with advice..more calcium, vit D, eat prunes for boron. I’ve run thru most of the meds including Forteo. Truthfully I’m looking on internet site such as Mayo and getting more info. I also spoke with a local clinic about starting a support group to help people like me get and use info. They’re enthused.
    One last note.. My bro-in-law was on antibiotics and referred, scanned for months. A UTI, something didn’t seem right to me.
    Finally I asked him some questions. I had a pretty good idea what the problem was by question 4. Told him at next appt ask…what was cultured from urine, had they considered a fistula bowel to bladder? E-coli. and no. Why not, he was having classic symptoms.
    So quick outpatient procedure and all is good.
    Sorry to be so long but I have some concerns re medical, nursing education and patient outcomes.

    • pjdxxxwa

      suze1942 is correct and the proof was mentioned on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir on May 02, 2016.

      The 3rd leading cause of death in the US is Medical Care.

      1. God help you if you ARE a nurse and try to get the right diagnosis these days with so many undereducated doctors in the USA with the ego sickness: you know, the I’m the doctor attitude you are just a lowly …. whatever.
      Fact: after the birth of my last child I had these symptoms: unequal pupils, splitting headaches that came and went like someone flipped a switched, transient numbness and tingling of left though, shoulder and neck pain, BP suddenly was 160/110 both arms, and problem with balance if I bent or squatted down. Despite my insisting their dx. were wrong they persisted I was wrong. Neurologist said “migraines” and my GP doctor said “normal aging hypertension”. I persisted. The real diagnosis: Cerebral Aneurysm confirmed (following an EEG) and then a Spec Scan of the brain. Knowing the percentages I elected to not wait until it burst and has surgery to clip it July 1, 1996.
      Both my Father in Law, then my own Father were killed due to negligence from Eastern doctors (which is who the elderly and poor are given on their insurance). One because he had not ordered I & O at the nursing facility he was in for “temporary” education for his care. He’d been taking 120 mg of Lasix each day, stopped it cold turkey and failed to monitor what would happen. He pretty much drowned in his own body fluid a few days later. My father had half his right lung removed in the 1980’s due to cancer. When he got older, and more susceptible to URI this would cause a bit of hypoxia. What is the signs we look for? Pacing and confusion early on. Again, doctors can’t put two and two together or ask the right question (or apparently look at patient history or drug inserts), because he was prescribed Risperdal for “alzheimer symptoms”. These new types of antipsychotic drugs are clearly marked on literature they should NOT be given to the elderly for OBS type symptoms due to risk of death. Living 2400 miles away I did not discover he’d been on this until later, when I did I made arrangement for him to go to an inpatient mental health facility to be weaned off this drug. Or so I thought. The doctor made the arrangements, but the doctor them added FOUR new drugs on top of this; refused to talk to me (being a woman as well as a nurse). Sent the info. about these drugs to my brother but his attitude we one we know so well “He’s the doctor, he knows what he is doing”. My father went into a confused oblivion and died a few weeks later.

      I have seen good doctors leave the field of medicine due to Insurance Corporation interference, and/or move out of the country to avoid it and reduce the stress in their own lives. As knowledgeable doctors leave, they have been replaced by doctors with less knowledge than intelligent nurses.

      So, no nurse Mendoza I do not agree with your generation’s idea of let the doctor do his job and nurses just blindly follow their orders. I have saved a few doctors butt’s in my career. I have caught things they have missed. I have had doctors ask me why I because a nurse rather than a doctor–with one going so far as to bring in a packet to apply for med school.

      In my day nurse’s were always patient advocates, not a doctor’s servant. Now we see the end result of this new training of nurses–the 3rd leading of death in America is now Medical Care … the very thing that is suppose to keep a person healthy.

  4. Ginncat

    Unfortunately this was my own child -21 yr old, who is a hypochondriac : she was complaining of urinary problems and adding symptom along the way until I hear her tell NP ” my Urea hurts all the time, getting real bad since yesterday, not I can’t pee” I know Web MD had something to do with this- it was all I could do not to burst out laughing in her face, I left room

  5. amt838

    When nurse’s self diagnose or are an advocate for family and friends you’ve probably saved a life. From my father who had a benign brain tumor removed in the 1970’s who did really well eating and drinking ,Until he had a total knee replaced in 2008 when the relatively new nurse gave his medications in THICKIT without being crushed post op. Guess what happened .You guessed aspiration pneumonia.Then to be told they had to wait for the internist before they could do anything.Wrong!You pull the light out of the wall in his room and say “code Blue”Yes he ended up tubed,total body shut down .Sad to day he did pass.My sister and I are both nurses and we couldn’t save him.
    Myself I fell at work out of a broken roll away chair.I ended up fall spread eagle of the cement floor.I immediately became dizzy ,and developed pain in my right shoulder.The hospital didn’t want to transfer me to hospital as they did think it was serious despite my concerns.This was Sept 1,2006.I went to the ER I used to work at and they found a level 4 encapsulated spline.They transferred me to Rhode Island Hospital a major trauma center.They kept sending me home as a pain medication issue.Then they tried an embolization pain was excruciating.They sent me home again.I went back to my ER I had 4 more liters of blood in my spleen.and sob.RIH did readmit me but stuck me in a corner and pretty much for got me.ONe resident kept coming to see me and making a joke that this was a pain med bla bla bla. Finally Oct 25 Icalled My OBGYN who is on staff and does family practice. Explained to him the story that I was going into rabdo my output was dropping/;pulse was going up/ BP was in the toilet/couldn’t breath .Help me.He rushed me into xray and CT.My H&h 7/12 My left lung had collapse and my spleen was filled again.I spent the next 10 hours in surgery .the next 3 weeks in ICU ( extubated myself.)and 4 weeks on the floors.What would have happened if I didn’t take it into my own hands and call him?I was going into the OR and said to the chief resident “Do you still think this is a pain Med issue asshole?”Never be afraid to speak up!!!

  6. Nailil

    These days there are more of working diagnosis than actual diagnosis. A pt is admitted and the diagnosis is ?? Pneumonia, because he/she presented with symptoms of Pneumonia but the lab tests and chest cray are normal.

  7. Nailil

    These days there are more of working diagnosis than actual diagnosis. A pt is admitted and the diagnosis is ?? Pneumonia, because he/she presented with symptoms of Pneumonia but the lab tests and chest x ray is normal.