Medical malpractice in South Carolina occurs when a health care professional fails to follow a standard of care causing harm. A common form of medical malpractice is misdiagnosis, meaning the doctor found a condition but diagnosed the wrong one. Some conditions are more frequently misdiagnosed than others, usually because of similar symptoms.
The Big Three
The Big Three refers to three conditions that account for 75% of medical malpractice cases: vascular events, infections and cancer. Strokes are the top misdiagnosed vascular event, commonly mistaken for migraines, seizures, conversion disorder or hypoglycemia. People under 50 have seven times more risk of a stroke misdiagnosis, which is often mistaken for confusion or drunkenness.
Lymphoma, a disease that affects the immune system, is the most misdiagnosed cancer, sometimes mistaken for a cold or a drug reaction. While most cancers are under-diagnosed, breast cancer commonly gets over-diagnosed at a rate of 31%, subjecting patients to unneeded treatment. Sepsis infections in hospitals, which can mimic pulmonary embolism and colitis, often get misdiagnosed following initial infection.
Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria spread from tick bites, is commonly misdiagnosed because it exhibits nonspecific symptoms. It may get mistaken for fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression, multiple sclerosis, flu, chronic fatigue syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive disorder that mimics symptoms of other disorders, such as ovarian cancer and celiac disease. Chronic fatigue syndrome commonly causes extreme exhaustion, usually with unknown causes that mimic hepatitis, sinuses and rheumatoid arthritis. Multiple sclerosis, a condition that affects the nervous system, is frequently confused with migraines fibromyalgia, neuropathy and lupus.
A doctor isn’t required to be perfect, but they should be thorough because misdiagnosis delays treatment. Testimony from doctors in the same field is typically needed to confirm a malpractice case.