You trust your physician with your life. You depend on them to arrive at a timely, accurate diagnosis of any potentially serious health problem you may have. So what happens when they fail to recognize the symptoms of a particular medical condition, or confuse a medical condition with a much more (or less) serious one?
Each year, there are several million cases of misdiagnosis in the United States. Many Weston medical malpractice lawsuits stem from a physician making a misdiagnosis about a patient’s condition. A misdiagnosis can have a devastating impact on a patient’s health, including mistreating a serious medical condition or delaying treatment past the stage where it would have been effective.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Diseases
As a leading nationwide medical misdiagnosis attorney, Lisa Levine has represented many clients who have their medical conditions worsened or lives cut short due to a medical misdiagnosis. We’ve noticed that some diseases are more misdiagnosed than others. These are some of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases:
Cauda Equina Syndrome
Caude Equina Syndrome is a condition in which the section of nerves at the base of the spinal cord becomes compressed. Initial symptoms usually include severe back pain or bladder issues, and several other more common conditions share similar symptoms. As such, Cauda Equina Syndrome is far too often misdiagnosed and treatment delayed, leaving the patient suffering long-term or even permanent injuries.
Cancer is the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions since it often exhibits few or no symptoms for years. In a lot of cases, cancers share symptoms of minor or harmless condition. For instance, a freckle or mole may be harmless, but it could also be indicative of skin cancer. A doctor needs to make a thorough medical examination, review your medical history and order the necessary tests to arrive at a correct diagnosis.
Different people experience heart attacks in different ways. Not everyone experiencing a heart attack has severe chest pains. It is important for a doctor to be able to tell the difference between a panic attack, indigestion and a heart attack. No matter what level of pain a patient is experiencing, a heart attack can be deadly without immediate emergency medical treatment.
The early warning signs that may point to a stroke share the same symptoms as several less serious medical conditions. Also, as we’re learning, older people aren’t the only ones who are at risk of stroke. Stroke symptoms among younger people are often misdiagnosed as vertigo, a migraine or intoxication.
People who experience common stroke symptoms such as vision problems, confusion, severe headaches, numbness of the face, difficulty speaking and/or trouble walking should seek immediate medical attention regardless of their age.
Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Celiac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Multiple Sclerosis cause the immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues, including those in the brain, kidneys, joints, skin, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. Common symptoms include pain, fatigue, weakness, stiffness, swollen joints, and depression. Each has its unique symptoms, however, so it’s important for a physician to be thorough to arrive at the correct diagnosis.
Other serious conditions, such as Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease, share similar symptoms with several autoimmune disorders.
The common symptoms of depression — sadness, fatigue, insomnia, changes in weight, and difficulty concentrating — can also be indicative of many other medical conditions.
Women’s Health Diseases
Breast cancer is among the more commonly misdiagnosed diseases affecting women. Mammograms can be misread, and the cancer spreads unnecessarily. The misdiagnosis can go the other way as well, with breast cancer being wrongly diagnoses and the breast unnecessarily removed. Ovarian and uterine cancer are also conditions that may be misdiagnosed, as well as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Endometriosis.
How Does a Misdiagnosis Happen?
There are many reasons why a doctor could misdiagnose a medical condition:
- Your condition has several symptoms that are similar to other less serious conditions;
- Inexperience, lack of education or training;
- They fail to make the proper examinations or tests;
- They don’t have access to your full medical record;
- They misread or failed to read the lab results;
- They were distracted by lack of sleep or personal issues.
Not all misdiagnoses rise to the level of medical malpractice. However, if the medical error occurred because the doctor failed to take the necessary actions to confirm or deny a diagnosis, the patient may be able to recover compensation for the injuries caused by this misdiagnosis by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down by a Medical Misdiagnosis
If your condition was made worse due to a misdiagnosis on the part of a physician, you may be able to recover compensation for the damages resulting from this misdiagnosis. Establishing that a physician failed to deliver the legal level of care when they made their diagnosis can be difficult.
Lisa Levine is a highly respected and sought after Weston medical malpractice attorney who has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, the John Walsh Show, the Miami Herald, and the Daily Business Review. She’s been representing the interests of patients throughout the United States who have had their lives turned upside down due to the negligent acts of doctors and other healthcare professionals since 1986.
Reach out to the law offices of Lisa Levine to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and legal options.