Rare disease patients often face misdiagnosis

by | Feb 27, 2019 | Firm News

For people with rare diseases in Ohio, misdiagnosis and the consequent inappropriate treatment may present additional threats to their health and well-being. Around the world, there are over 400 million people with rare diseases, but most of these illnesses are the subject of little research or attention. Because relatively few people are affected by each condition, most rare illnesses receive little funding that could help to move research forward. As a result, many patients with these conditions are often inaccurately diagnosed and may receive useless or even harmful treatments.

In the United States, diseases are considered rare if less than 200,000 Americans are affected annually. A full 50 percent of patients affected by these conditions are children, but they can affect people throughout the human lifespan. For example, around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. This cancer is generally caused by asbestos exposure and develops later in life. However, it is frequently misdiagnosed as pneumonia, asthma or even the common cold. When there is a failure to diagnose cancer at an early stage, patients could miss out on a critical stage where it may have been possible to treat the malignancy more effectively.

Around one-quarter of rare disease patients experience a significant delay in receiving a proper diagnosis, ranging from 5 years to 30 years in one study. Another cancer that is often diagnosed late is gallbladder cancer. Gallbladder issues are often misdiagnosed as less serious diseases, and people may receive treatment for an inaccurate diagnosis. More significantly, the cancer is not treated at an early stage and can progress substantially while undiagnosed.

People who have received a misdiagnosis and experienced a worsened health condition or endangered prognosis as a result may want to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer may review their case to discuss the potential of pursuing compensation for their damages.