When someone in Westfield, New Jersey, goes to the doctor, he or she expects to get some answers. However, sometimes, an individual gets a delayed or an incorrect diagnosis. There are several diseases and conditions that are misdiagnosed more often than others.
The big three
Stats show three conditions make up 75% of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis cases: infections, cancers and vascular events. The journal Diagnosis reported diagnostic errors related to these conditions accounted for 60% of medical malpractice claims.
A nationwide study found that the most misdiagnosed cancers are lymphoma, melanoma, breast cancer and sarcoma. These cancers often mimic the symptoms of other less serious conditions, such as skin cancer being mistaken for eczema. Lyme disease, which is an infection transmitted by ticks, often is misdiagnosed as eczema or another insect bite.
Stroke, the most common vascular event, can mimic seizures, vertigo, hyperglycemia, conversion disorder and intoxication. Younger people under the age of 50 are especially at risk of a stroke being misdiagnosed as a migraine or intoxication. A stroke misdiagnosis is 33% more likely for women in the ER and 20% to 30% higher for minorities.
Irritable bowel syndrome is commonly a nonfatal digestive disorder, which causes diarrhea, constipation — or both — and abdominal cramping. It often gets misdiagnosed as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, ovarian cancer, stress, gallstones and infections.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease, and it causes trouble sleeping, muscle spasms, joint pain, excessive gas, anxiety and cognitive issues. It is often diagnosed as a rheumatoid condition, such as lupus or arthritis, Lyme disease, or chronic fatigue syndrome. Multiple sclerosis affects the nervous system, like fibromyalgia, and has similar symptoms, but they require different treatments.
A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can cause a condition to worsen, and it may be medical malpractice. However, not all errors are medical malpractice, and the case must meet certain criteria before the patient can seek damages.