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What medical conditions are commonly misdiagnosed?

People in Massachusetts and elsewhere rely on the knowledge of medical professionals to help them receive the right treatment. The first step in any treatment plan is pinpointing the patient's condition and delivering an accurate diagnosis. When failure to diagnose occurs, it triggers a cascade of potential problems for the patient such as:

  • Worsened condition
  • New symptoms
  • Delayed treatment
  • Risk of injury
  • Risk of death in some cases

A logical person understands that doctors do not have all the right answers 100 percent of the time, but they do have a responsibility to investigate all possibilities when making a diagnosis. With that said, here are several medical conditions that physicians often misdiagnose.

Lyme disease: Physicians often find this illness caused by a tick bite difficult to diagnose correctly because it may mimic influenza, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other conditions. Ask your doctor to rule out Lyme disease before accepting a diagnosis.

Multiple sclerosis: This autoimmune illness may mimic Alzheimer's disease, lupus or a viral infection. Doctors can detect this condition through a lumbar puncture and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Lupus: This illness, which may look a lot like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, can cause serious damage to internal organs if left untreated. A doctor can rule out Lupus by ordering a battery of tests.

Cancers: Certain cancers, including lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer can elude detection. Ask your doctor to consider these illnesses if your current treatment is not working.

Failure to diagnose can make you feel worse, but more importantly, it can shorten your life span considerably. When a doctor fails to investigate the cause of your symptoms to the best of his or her ability, it could be a case of medical malpractice. Remember that it is your right to question a doctor about a diagnosis and to ask for additional tests to confirm or rule out serious illnesses.

Source: AARP.org, "7 Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses," Mary A. Fischer, accessed March 08, 2018

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