Can you imagine being told there is nothing wrong with you after repeated hospital visits, only to have a resident physician identify a tumor seven months after your first visit? This is precisely what happened to a man in Maryland in 2006.
The resident who discovered the tumor found it using a fairly simple procedure that previous doctors failed to perform. The patient ended up having to undergo surgery, removing most of his larynx, and with it, his ability to speak. Had the diagnosis occurred earlier, his cancer could have been treated using non-invasive methods.
Stories like this are much more common than most people think. A recent study estimates that as many as 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year. The study also found that about 40,500 people die as a result of these incorrect diagnoses.
Some illnesses are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic more common and less dangerous conditions like the flu. Other times, there is a problem with information from diagnostic laboratories, or there is a lack of communication between the patient and physician. In some instances, the failure to diagnose is a result of medical negligence.
Below are some of the most common misdiagnosed illnesses:
- Lyme Disease – Caused by bites from certain species of ticks, Lyme disease is associated with long-term joint pain, stiffness and fatigue. People often suffer with the symptoms for over a year before they are correctly diagnosed.
- Lupus – Lupus is potentially fatal if not treated. The immune system attacks its own tissues. Symptoms include joint pain, skin rashes and kidney problems.
- Cancer – Although cancer detection and treatment has greatly improved in recent years, misdiagnosis still occurs in up to 44 percent of cases for some types of cancer. The most common misdiagnosed conditions are lymphoma, skin cancer and breast cancer.
- Celiac Disease – You may have heard of celiac disease thanks to the recent popularity of gluten-free foods. However, the disease is quite rare. Unfortunately, blood tests can give false-negative for about 10 percent of people with this condition.
- Multiple Sclerosis – This disease gets progressively worse, attacking the central nervous system, reducing motor functionality for patients. Patients in advanced stages can lose the ability to walk or control their bowels. Getting this detected early typically requires a battery of different diagnostic tests.
- Parkinson’s Disease – This usually begins with hand or leg tremors, but can develop into complete loss of motor control, referred to as catatonia. It often gets misdiagnosed as stroke or head injury. There are no lab tests for Parkinson’s currently.
- Fibromyalgia – Fibromyalgia is a generalized, chronic condition that causes fatigue, sleep issues, joint pain and muscle pain. It is usually mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you have suffered from pain and avoidable medical procedures due to a misdiagnosis, contact Simien & Simien, LLC today. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys will fight to get you the maximum compensation you are entitled to.