If doctors fail to diagnose diabetes, patients may suffer serious illness or death. When people seek medical treatment for ailing symptoms, they generally expect their medical providers to accurately diagnose and appropriately treat them. Sometimes, however, physicians may make mistakes in their diagnoses and treatment plans, which may seriously affect the health of their patients.
The Dangers of Misdiagnosing Diabetes
Health care providers may mistakenly diagnose diabetes as another condition altogether, or they may make errors in diagnosing the type of diabetes patients have. Affecting children and adults, diabetes refers to a group of metabolic diseases affecting the use of blood sugar by the body. In a study published in the Clinical Diabetes journal, 25% of study participants reported misdiagnosis of diabetes. The treatments for different conditions and types of diabetes often differ significantly. Using the wrong treatment may cause patients to experience additional symptoms, complications, or death.
Common Causes of Diabetes Misdiagnoses
Numerous factors may contribute to doctors misdiagnosing or delaying their diagnosis of diabetes in adult and child patients. Some of the most common of these factors may include the following:
- Failure to order the appropriate testing
- Misreading lab results
- Misidentifying nonspecific symptoms
- Overlooking diabetes due to no family history of the condition
Due to these and other such factors, doctors may erroneously diagnose type 1 diabetes as type 2, or they may mistakenly diagnose diabetes as the flu virus or as an eating disorder. Making such medical mistakes may result in them administering treatments that may not help or worsen patients’ conditions.
Potential Diabetes Complications
Left untreated or treated with inappropriate methods, those with diabetes may suffer potentially serious or deadly complications. Some of the most common of these may include skin problems, neuropathy, eye issues, foot problems, and high blood pressure. Inadequate diabetes treatment resulting from delayed or missed diagnoses may also increase patients’ risk of developing conditions such as kidney disease or cardiovascular disease, or of suffering a stroke.
Due to missed or delayed diagnosis of diabetes, patients may also develop diabetic ketoacidosis. A potentially life-threatening condition, DKA occurs when the body breaks down fat too fast, causing the liver to process it into ketones. When ketones build up in the blood, they may make it acidic, which may be toxic for patients. Among other symptoms, DKA may cause people to suffer kidney failure, cardiac arrest, or cerebral edema.