Singer Kelly Clarkson couldn’t be more thrilled about her current — and 13th — Grammy nomination. The 34-year-old American Idol winner (who is sometimes referred to as the “Original American Idol,” since she was the first winner of the iconic show) told Billboard’s Pop Shop Podcast that she plans to enjoy this year’s 59th Grammy Awards … because her experience during the 2006 Grammy’s wasn’t a pleasurable one.
“Well, not many people know this — not to be a Debbie Downer — but I was told that morning that I had cancerous results for something,” she stated. “Here’s the horrible part — I went the whole day crying. They redid my makeup like four times because I was like, ‘Wow, so young.’ I was just completely freaking out. Then when I won, I thought, ‘Oh, my God. This is like God … giving me a wonderful thing, you know, before something horrible happens.'”
But as it turned out, her cancer diagnosis was false.
“I went [to the doctor’s] the next day, and they apologized for mixing up results. And I was like, ‘Are you for real? … You completely ruined my entire [experience],'” Clarkson continued. “The first time for an artist … as a kid watching the Grammys, that was a big dream! It was kind of the worst-greatest day. And the next day was also the worst-greatest day, because I wanted to punch someone.”
She added: “I was like, ‘Who mixes up results? Why wouldn’t you test again?’ It was very much a roller coaster ride that day for me. So, it’s kind of unfortunate, but a lot of the moments got stolen from that mishap. But, hey, I didn’t have cancer!”
The mother of two also said that she doesn’t “remember anything but being terrified.”
“It’s hard to tell how often something like this happens, but I would say it’s rare,” Richard Reitherman, MD, PhD, medical director of breast imaging at MemorialCare Breast Center at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells Yahoo Beauty. “There are published studies looking at errors in diagnosis, which is actually a different thing. This is not an error in diagnosis — it’s just the wrong person being given a diagnosis.”
The enormous inaccuracy could have occurred at any point during the protocol. Reitherman explains that once a sample is taken from a patient, it is then placed into a container, which is expected to be labeled correctly. Step two involves paperwork that should correspond with the container.
“But let’s say the mistake didn’t happen at either of those places, and now the pathologist makes a diagnosis,” continues Reitherman. A report may be written, yet the information could be exchanged over a telephone conversation with the referring physician, not the medical professional who performed the biopsy.
“So you can see what happens now,” he states. “The doctor gets a lab report or a call from somebody, and sometimes they don’t even know the patient has been biopsied.”
If the error occurred in the beginning of the process, “it’s more of a problem because then you have to redo the biopsy,” explains Reitherman. “But if the mix-up comes at the end, it comes down to telling the wrong patient, which is totally devastating.”
However, being an active participant in your health care may help prevent becoming a victim of medical mistakes.
“To be your own advocate, you need what is called equal information,” states Reitherman. “There’s a concept in lots of different behavioral sciences called information asymmetry, which means both people participating in the decision don’t have equal information. If people don’t know they have a right for information symmetry, they don’t ask for it.”
Reitherman strongly advises asking your physician for a copy of each written medical report and checking all of the information — your name, address, age, birth date, social security number. “It doesn’t mean the piece of paper is accurate — it means the report is for you.”
If you’re undergoing a biopsy, he advises requesting information before and after the procedure. “Everybody should have a written protocol of the chain of events,” says Reitherman. “A patient should have the right to know this.”
And if the doctor refuses, Reitherman says, the “alert button” in your mind should be buzzing. “It’s a red flag if people will not give the information you need to make a medical decision,” he emphasizes.