Diagnostic errors will make a medical situation worse, and they are often grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits. Oftentimes, doctors do not take care to ask the questions that they need. Accordingly, they miss diagnosing the disease, costing the patient valuable treatment time. Here are some of the diseases and conditions that doctors miss the most.
This autoimmune disease is often accompanied by a hallmark butterfly rash across the cheeks. In addition to the rash, patients often suffer from chronic fatigue, joint pain, and fever. Lupus can attack practically every system in the body. Since the disease frequently mimics rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome, it can be difficult to pinpoint. There is no one specific test to diagnose lupus. Physicians will generally only settle on lupus as a diagnosis after they have run multiple blood and urine tests. In the meantime, lupus could have damaged numerous systems, especially the kidneys.
Many physicians misdiagnose the body aches, fatigue, and fever that accompany Lyme disease with the flu, meningitis, or fibromyalgia, especially when the patient does not get the rash associated with a tick bite. Lyme disease is not revealed through a simple blood test. Patients will often not develop the antibodies for weeks. Some doctors could go months before suspecting Lyme disease. In the meantime, patients suffer from a debilitating disease that could rob them of their quality of life.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome often suffer from stomach aches and other digestive issues. Like other diseases, the doctor may not diagnose IBS at first and no one test can diagnose the disease. Instead, the doctor will need to rule conditions before diagnosing IBS. Before doctors consider IBS as a diagnosis, they generally expect the patient to have pain for the better part of six months. Then, the diagnosis may take a long time as the patient struggles with daily discomfort.
This is one of the most difficult forms of cancer to diagnose. Oftentimes, the patient will not show any symptoms until the cancer has reached a later stage. Early diagnosis is the key to survival, but only about 20% of cases are caught in the early stages. Even when women begin to show symptoms, they can be vague. Doctors often will not associate them with ovarian cancer. When physicians are informed know about a family history of the disease, they are more apt to test for ovarian cancer at the first sign of symptoms. Otherwise, doctors may point a finger at other diseases before they hone in on ovarian cancer.
The difficulty with diagnosing multiple sclerosis is that the disease can come in peaks and valleys. Symptoms usually start with numbness and tingling in the limbs, but the condition affects patients differently. There is also no specific test for multiple sclerosis, but doctors will usually run an MRI. However, patients could have different symptoms depending on where they are having scarring in their brain or spinal cord. Since the symptoms can be so different, patients themselves might not even know that they have multiple sclerosis for years. The patient’s condition will continue to get worse while physicians struggle to figure out what is happening.
This is a condition that doctors must promptly diagnose. Otherwise, a ruptured or burst appendix can put the patient’s life in danger. The patient presents with a stomach ache that doctors often mistake for indigestion, costing valuable treatment time. The location of the appendix in the body could make it hard to spot on a CT scan. Since the surrounding organs may also be inflamed, doctors may think that the problem is with those organs and not the appendix. The patient can develop a serious infection if fluids begin to leak into the abdominal cavity.
This is the second-leading cause of death among men in this country, yet colorectal cancer is difficult to catch without a colonoscopy. Early detection makes the difference between life and death, but the symptoms take time to present themselves. Oftentimes, they develop in slow motion over many years. Patients are often not informed that they have colorectal cancer until it is in its advanced stages. Doctors could mistake the symptoms for something much less deadly, including other forms of digestive disease. They miss the red flags, attributing the symptoms to another condition.
A doctor’s failure to diagnose a disease could allow a family to receive compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical bills if the doctor was negligent and the patient was injured. Medical malpractice lawyers often review cases that indicate a misdiagnosis occurred to see if the doctors acted unreasonably and his or her actions injured the patient.