Asthma affects nearly 15 percent of people in Massachusetts. But many people who are diagnosed with asthma don’t actually have it. An asthma misdiagnosis can be costly in more ways than one. Inhalers and other medications prescribed to asthma patients can be harmful to a patient who does not actually have asthma, and the cost of these medications can be high for patients and insurance companies.

Asthma is a serious medical condition, but the problem of asthma misdiagnosis is surprisingly high across the country. According to studies, a quarter of the 25 million Americans who are diagnosed with asthma may have been misdiagnosed. A variety of breathing problems can be mistaken for asthma. The symptoms of coughing, wheezing or difficulties in breathing are similar to other, sometimes serious conditions, including heart failure and vocal cord dysfunction. Doctors often see a patient with breathing problems, diagnose asthma and prescribe an inhaler, without having the patient actually undergoing a breathing test.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that asthma costs the United States 50 billion dollars a year in medical expenses. It can cost individuals who have been diagnosed with it a great deal of money in medications.

Someone who has been misdiagnosed with asthma could be losing more than just money on medications they don’t really need. Asthma medication could be causing health problems to anyone taking it if they don’t really have asthma. And while asthma continues to be seen as the wrong problem, the real problem continues undetected.

Someone who has been misdiagnosed with asthma may have suffered health issues or financial losses. Doctors could be held accountable and a patient could seek financial compensation for losses. An attorney who specializes in medical malpractice may be of assistance to anyone who has been misdiagnosed.

Source: Trust for America’s Health,”Key Health Data About Massachusetts,” 2013

Source: CBS Philadelphia, “Health: Asthma Misdiagnosis Is Common“, Stephanie Stahl, December 17, 2013