When patients enter a professional relationship with a healthcare provider, they have the reasonable expectation that the healthcare provider will accurately diagnose and treat any medical conditions. Unfortunately, many diseases go undiagnosed in the United States each day. Some are more likely to lead to a delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis than others. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases each year include:
Many illnesses and diseases involve a process of elimination, and many people experience a delay in diagnosis of IBS because of the nature of the diagnostic criteria. To receive a diagnosis of IBS, a person must have a certain constellation of symptoms that persist for at least 6 months, and these symptoms should occur at least three days a month. Common alternative diagnoses include types of colitis or even anxiety.
Although still rare, celiac disease has been the subject of many news stories of late. The disease represents a true allergy to gluten that leads to damage to the intestinal tract when consumed. Celiac disease has a generic constellation of symptoms including joint pain, headaches, and digestive upset, but people may be diagnosed with simple gluten intolerance or mental health conditions before arriving at the correct diagnosis.
Fibromyalgia can be a difficult condition to diagnose and treat because its main symptom is chronic, widespread pain. Like IBS, diagnosing a person with fibromyalgia requires a process of elimination, and it may mimic the symptoms of IBS itself.
The principal symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is aches and pains, which could result from virtually any condition, from the flu to exhaustion. RA can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, so patients may continue to experience debilitating pain until a provider correctly diagnoses RA.
Lyme disease comes from the bite of an infected tick and may include a characteristic bullseye rash. Unfortunately, without the presence of this rash, a patient may present with a constellation of generic symptoms, including fatigue, headache, and other flu-like signs. A blood test may confirm Lyme disease, but it’s not always accurate.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can have a profound effect on a woman’s life. Some of the most common signs include painful menstruation, acne, and difficulty getting pregnant. However, PCOS can present with few to no physical symptoms, which makes it difficult to treat.
MS is a serious disease that requires a prompt diagnosis. Unfortunately, the symptoms are often episodic, occurring in bursts that can be difficult to pinpoint. Further, the only way to diagnose the condition is by use of expensive tests such as MRI and invasive ones like spinal taps.
Lupus commonly presents with a characteristic butterfly rash across the cheeks but not always. When a person has a rash, diagnosing the condition can be straightforward. On the other hand, symptoms can vary greatly from patient to patient and the condition can be difficult to diagnose.
All women experience some degree of discomfort during menstruation, but someone with endometriosis experiences true debilitation with associated infertility and other symptoms. Unfortunately, this condition often goes undiagnosed until a provider orders imaging to confirm scarring or other damage to the endometrium.
A misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis does not always call for a medical malpractice lawyer. In some cases, however, a physician’s failure to accurately diagnose a condition could be the result of incompetence or unwillingness to provide a reasonably careful exam and associated testing. When providers’ actions fall below established standards of care, they may be liable for the damages a person incurs as a result.