Delayed diagnosis is detrimental to patients

It is not uncommon for news pertaining to infectious diseases of pandemic potential, such as bird flu, to make global headline news. Given some of the common flu like symptoms such as fever, cough and fatigue associated with infectious diseases, it is not uncommon for doctors to misdiagnose a patient. However, a delayed diagnosis can result in the progression of a serious infectious disease and result in serious health consequences for the patient.

New Jersey residents may find it interesting to learn of the rise of valley fever, a fungal disease, in the U.S Southwest. According to the CDC, between in 1998 and 2011, the number of valley fever rose by nearly 900 percent. It is estimated that nearly 150,000 people nationwide get the disease for which currently there is no vaccine or cure. The fungal spores are found in the soil and anyone who inhales the spores can get the disease. However, outdoor worker are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.

In one case, when a winemaker became sick, his doctors thought he had an ordinary form of pneumonia. However, it took them nearly a month to realize that he had valley fever. By this time the fungal infection had already spread through the man’s body and impacted his central nervous system. He was immediately started on anti-fungal medication.

As a result of the delayed diagnosis the winemaker will be required to take an anti-fungal medication for the rest of his life. The medication itself has a number of side-effects, and drains his energy. Despite the anti-fungal medication, his doctors believe he is losing his memory, and will suffer strokes and seizures.

Delayed diagnosis is detrimental to patients and can result in serious long-term health consequences. The disease can progress, lead to complications and become difficult to treat. New Jersey residents suspecting that the diagnosis of their condition was delayed or initially misdiagnosed may want to consider filing a malpractice suit that may ease their financial burden by covering the cost of medicines and additional treatment required due to the misdiagnosis.

Source: NPR, “Cases of Mysterious Valley Fever Rise In American Southwest,” Rebecca Plevin, May 13, 2013

Posted in: Failure to Diagnose