Misdiagnoses of disease affect lives and communities: Dr Sandeep Arora

Dr Sandeep Arora, MBBS, MD, is an esteemed dermatologist with over 25 years of experience. Dr Arora currently runs his own practice.

When a patient explains to you about their health problems, what are the most common mistakes they make in their communication?

One prevalent error individuals often make in their communication with doctors is the tendency to misdiagnose or engage in self-diagnosis. This not only results in a reliance on potentially inaccurate information obtained from online searches but also introduces a bias in the mind of the treating physician during follow-up. Relying on the answers found on the internet can lead to a false narrative that may hinder the accurate understanding of medical conditions, impacting the overall effectiveness of the treatment process.

What does health literacy mean to you, and why is it important in patient care?

Health literacy involves recognizing the importance of consulting a relevant health expert when confronted with any health issue. It emphasizes that treatment compliance is just as crucial as obtaining a correct diagnosis. Acknowledging that medicines alone may not be the sole solution, health literacy underscores the significance of incorporating lifestyle changes as necessary components of effective healthcare.

If a patient is knowledgeable about the basics of their health condition, how helpful is it for the overall treatment procedure?

Being knowledgeable about the basics of one’s health condition is highly beneficial for patients, and it significantly influences the outcome of their treatment. When individuals have a solid understanding of their health issues, it enables them to actively engage in their care, making informed decisions and fostering a more collaborative relationship with healthcare professionals.

How much can medical misinformation impact treatment procedures?

Medical misinformation has a notable impact on treatment procedures as it leads to a shift in patient expectations, often deviating from the realm of realistic outcomes. When individuals are influenced by inaccurate or misleading health information, they may develop unrealistic expectations regarding their treatment. This can pose challenges for healthcare professionals who strive to align patient expectations with the reality of the medical situation.

What are the most common myths or misinformation you see your patients falling prey to?

As a dermatologist, I have encountered several myths and misinformation while treating patients. Some of them are:

  1. Using steroids as fairness creams.
  2. Steroids or irritants to treat fungal infections.
  3. Believing certain alternative schools of medicine are free from side effects. While it’s true that every field of medicine has its own place, any medicine can cause side effects.
  4. Fair skin is a sign of healthy skin. It is a common misconception that the fairer the skin, the better and healthier it is.
  5. Another myth is that dermatological disorders can never be controlled. Once affected by conditions like psoriasis, an individual may have to suffer lifelong.

What is your most common advice to patients to stay away from health misinformation online?

For creating an impact in any one browsing, health information online may present an extreme picture of any disease or condition. This naturally leads one to believe their condition or misdiagnosis is grave. Hence they shall naturally fall trap to promised shortcuts to the purported wonder drugs and then have complications and side effects. Consult your dermatologist and make informed decisions about your condition.

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