Medical misdiagnoses are more common than you might think. Doctors don’t necessarily get the correct diagnosis in every situation. However, they have a legal obligation to treat you with a certain standard of care based on medical industry regulations.
Some illnesses and diseases are more challenging to diagnose and may result in a misdiagnosis. When that misdiagnosis involves a substandard level of care, it could be medical malpractice. Here’s a look at some common misdiagnosed medical conditions.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical misdiagnosis, contact Seth Gladstein at Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC today.
Cancer is one of the most common misdiagnosed medical conditions, especially rapidly spreading types such as colon, lung, breast, and pancreatic cancer. Misdiagnosing someone’s cancer could cost the patient their life. For example, someone with stage three cancer finally receives a diagnosis, which shows the cancer is now stage four. This delay could impact the amount of time they have left to live.
A cancer misdiagnosis could also be very traumatic if it’s the other way around. Suppose a doctor tells you that you have cancer, but you don’t. You could be subjected to unnecessary treatment and wrong medication, leading to health problems.
Multiple Sclerosis is challenging to diagnose because it has so many different symptoms, including dizziness, blurred vision, loss of balance and coordination, muscle spasms, etc. A correct diagnosis involves multiple tests, such as a lumbar puncture and an MRI. These symptoms are present in many different conditions, leading to confusion and misdiagnoses.
Lyme disease is a severe illness with symptoms that can also mimic other health conditions. Someone can become infected with Lyme disease after suffering a bite from a tick that carries the Lyme bacteria. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include stiff neck, muscle pain, nausea, shortness of breath, nausea and stomach cramps, vomiting, and more. Misdiagnosed health problems can lead to significant concerns if a victim fails to get the proper medical treatment and medication. Some patients may go longer than a year without finding out they have Lyme disease.
Heart Attack or Stroke
Heart attacks and strokes are also some of the most common misdiagnosed medical conditions. When dealing with younger people, doctors often dismiss complaints as something else because patients don’t fit the usual criteria. Some doctors try to dismiss symptoms as indigestion or gas. However, heart attacks and strokes occur more often than you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States. Annually, it’s estimated that 805,000 people sustain a heart attack across the country. 605,000 of those are first-time heart attacks.
The CDC also reports similar statistics with strokes. Every 40 seconds, someone across the United States has a stroke. Every 3.5 minutes, there is a stroke-related death in the country. Annually, more than 795,000 people suffer a stroke, with 610,000 of these being the first one.
People who have celiac disease are unable to digest gluten adequately. The side effects include weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, anemia, and more. Some people go as long as ten years or more without a proper diagnosis of celiac disease. There are notable dangers of misdiagnosis, especially with an autoimmune condition like Celiac disease. When someone goes years without an accurate diagnosis, continuing to eat gluten can cause more damage to their body.
Blood clots are life-threatening and must be diagnosed quickly, or the patient can die. A blood clot that travels to the lung is called a pulmonary embolism. Patients will have chest pain, unexplained shortness of breath, sweating, and anxiety. Despite the notable symptoms, many health care professionals miss diagnosing a pulmonary embolism.
Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and fatigue. Patients report heightened sensitivity to pain in certain areas, leading to anxiety and depression. Fibromyalgia symptoms are similar to lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome, so some doctors misdiagnose it.
Some people don’t think about depression as a medical condition, but it is. Unfortunately, it remains one of the most common misdiagnosed medical conditions in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five people experiences mental illness each year. Every year, one in six young people, ages 6 to 17, experience a mental health disorder. Around half of all mental illness starts by age 14, and 75% are before they turn 24.
Misdiagnosing mental illnesses can have severe side effects for the patient. They could receive the wrong medication, causing further issues. If the patient remains unmedicated, they are at risk.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder that is challenging to diagnose. There are no lab tests that patients can undergo that will definitively show Parkinson’s. Instead, doctors must conduct clinical exams and review a patient’s symptoms to make the diagnosis. Parkinson’s affects the central nervous system, causing muscle stiffness, balance issues, and uncontrollable tremors.
How to Protect Yourself from Misdiagnosis
While there is no 100% foolproof way to protect yourself against a misdiagnosis, some things to keep in mind can help. Always ask questions when you see a doctor. Don’t be afraid to speak up and express your thoughts and opinions. You might feel anxious speaking up and challenging a doctor’s findings. However, you need to stand up for yourself as your life could depend on it.
After meeting with a doctor, get a second opinion if you feel uneasy. If you believe your doctor isn’t taking your symptoms seriously, you have the right to seek a second opinion. Sometimes, you may need to get a third opinion.
Be sure to find a doctor who takes their time. We all understand doctors are busy and often running behind, especially during late-day appointments. However, they still have a duty to treat you within the accepted professional standards of care. If you feel like you are not getting the attention you deserve, speak up and request the health care provider slow down a little and take their time.
Contact a Kentucky Medical Errors Attorney
If you believe you’re the victim of misdiagnosis in Kentucky, you have legal rights. Speaking with an experienced Kentucky medical errors lawyer is essential. It would be best if you had a legal advocate on your side who understands the dangers of misdiagnosis and has the necessary experience to protect your rights.
Seth Gladstein is a lawyer with years of experience, including defending medical malpractice lawsuits. He understands how insurance companies and defense attorneys think, giving you an advantage in litigation.
Don’t let a medical professional get away with misdiagnosing you and causing further harm. Contact Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule an initial consultation.