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What are commonly misdiagnosed illnesses?


It is not uncommon for residents in Pennsylvania to go to the doctor. Whether it is for a cold, an injury or any other type of illness or disease, patients rely on the doctor's diagnosis and treatment plan. If a doctor fails to note symptoms or makes a misdiagnosis, the patient could suffer greatly or have worsened conditions.

The failure to diagnose an illness or a disease could lead to serious medical conditions, which causes many to question, what are commonly misdiagnosed illnesses. Below are seven illnesses that are commonly misdiagnosed and why.

First, lupus, which is a chronic inflammatory disease, often mimics chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. There are some blood tests available that would indicate whether the patient has this illness.

Next, Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, can often mimic illnesses such as Alzheimer's, stroke, stress and a traumatic head injury. A clinical examination should properly diagnose this disease because there are no lab tests.

Third, fibromyalgia, a chronic arthritis-like disorder characterized by widespread pain, is known to mimic rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. While there are no diagnostic lab tests available, a diagnosis is commonly made through an examination and a patient report of symptoms.

Other commonly misdiagnosed diseases include Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. With these, it is important to note what other illnesses these could mimic as well as the tests available to patients to ensure they have the illness they are being treated for.

When medical error occurs and a patient is misdiagnosed, the patient could suffer new or worsened conditions. This could cause need for a new treatment plan and more medical interventions. A patient who is misdiagnosed could file a medical malpractice suit. This could result in compensation being awarded to the patient, which could cover medical bills, lost wages and other related damages.

Medical negligence can greatly impact the life and health of a patient, so it is important they understand what steps they can take when this occurs. Seeking guidance about legal remedies available helps ensure their rights and interests are protected.

Source: AARP.org, "7 Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses," Mary A. Fischer, July 2011

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