Cancers, infections, and autoimmune disorders are frequently linked to diagnostic errors. Misdiagnosis is one of the most common, costly, and dangerous forms of medical malpractice. This occurs when a physician misdiagnoses the patient or fails to make a diagnosis. Typical reasons for misdiagnoses are related to clinical judgment failures including failure to properly evaluate symptoms, having a narrow diagnostic focus, neglecting to order a diagnostic test, and misinterpreting diagnostic test results.
Six diseases that are often misdiagnosed include:
Cancers are misdiagnosed as frequently as 28% of the time. Symptoms tend to vary based on the individual patient, the type of cancer, and its severity. Breast cancer, lymphoma, melanoma, and sarcoma are typically misdiagnosed forms of cancer. These conditions may be misdiagnosed due to rushed patient evaluation, missing or fragmented information, and incomplete medical history.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by tick bites. This disease causes a wide range of symptoms such as skin rash, fever, muscle and joint aches, shortness of breath, nausea, face twitching, stiffness of the neck, and fatigue. Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed as meningitis, the flu, or fibromyalgia.
Celiac disease manifests as the inability to digest gluten. This severe immune reaction causes inflammation in the intestinal tract. Symptoms of celiac disease include vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, acid reflux, diarrhea, joint pain, headaches, and heartburn. Celiac disease is often misdiagnosed as Chron’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
Lupus occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. This chronic inflammatory disease can affect kidneys, joints, skin, brain, lungs, heart, and blood cells. Symptoms typically include a butterfly rash across the cheeks, joint pain, fatigue, and fever. Lupus can mimic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Ignoring certain symptoms or failure to order necessary tests could lead to a lupus misdiagnosis.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system. This disease causes progressive nerve damage, disrupting communication between the brain and other parts of the body. Multiple sclerosis is sometimes mistaken for lupus, Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, or viral infection.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread muscle pain and tenderness accompanied by anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia. Common misdiagnoses for fibromyalgia include chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
If missed or delayed diagnosis occurs as a result of a doctor’s negligence, medical malpractice lawyers may be to help patients recover compensation for damages sustained.