Unfortunately, the practice of medicine is not an exact science. Each person’s symptoms are unique, and the onset of conditions can be very different for each individual even when they share the same disorder.
Doctors learn different protocols to follow to aid in accurately diagnosing patients. They must follow them to avoid misdiagnosing a patient’s condition — but that doesn’t always happen. There are some medical conditions that doctors struggle to diagnose more than others, especially lupus (SLE), Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia.
Why doctors often misdiagnose lupus
Lupus often goes misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis instead. This often happens because doctors fail to order X-rays or perform the right tests necessary to come up with a patient’s correct diagnosis.
Why physicians misdiagnose Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease patients often experience hand, leg and arm tremors. They may also have stiff muscles or struggle with balancing themselves, both of which can cause patients to have issues walking.
Doctors often incorrectly diagnose Parkinson’s disease patients as having suffered head trauma or a stroke or tell them that they have a tumor or Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors may even encourage their patients to destress to quiet their symptoms. While no lab test can detect Parkinson’s, a thorough clinical examination can help a physician hone in on an accurate diagnosis.
Why doctors often misdiagnose fibromyalgia
Sometimes patients come in suffering from widespread pain and chronic arthritis, anxiety or depression, debilitating fatigue, or sensitivity to pain, all of which are symptoms that are synonymous with fibromyalgia. Doctors often mistake these symptoms for chronic fatigue syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.
No lab tests exist that can aid doctors in detecting fibromyalgia. Physicians who take a patient’s complete medical history may be able to hone in on whether a patient is experiencing 11 or more tender points on the body that are extremely sensitive to pain. The presence of these is a key indicator that someone might have fibromyalgia.
When a diagnostic mistake leaves you injured
Doctors have protocols that they should follow when diagnosing patients, but some neglect to follow them because they’re under time constraints, don’t have a mastery of them or for some other reason. Doctors who don’t provide adequate diagnoses leave their patients suffering longer than they should — and that can lead to serious consequences. If you believe you were harmed by a misdiagnosis, it may be time to speak with an attorney.