False Positive / False Negative

False-positive means the test result came out “positive,” indicating you have that condition, but it was wrong.  Vice versa with false-negative: it looks like you don’t have the disease, but the test was wrong, so you really do.  It’s not that the lab or radiologist made a mistake with the blood test or x-ray.  Rather, many tests are simply not 100% accurate, through nobody’s fault.  So when a test is “positive” or “negative,” we clinicians to use our judgment, & consider all information.

For this reason, sometimes it’s better not to do tests!  See topic Why Not to Test People for Unlikely Conditions.

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