Teen’s rare, painful condition went undiagnosed for 6 years

As we have mentioned before on our Joliet medical malpractice law blog, a misdiagnosis of a serious or life-threatening condition may prevent patients from receiving the treatment they need to survive their health problems. A misdiagnosis may also cause patients to go through months or years of pain while they bounce from doctor to doctor, and take one medical test after another to figure out what is causing their health problems.

In order to avoid making misdiagnosis errors, doctors need to thoroughly examine patients’ symptoms and conduct medical tests when necessary to properly rule in or rule out health conditions. Doctors also need to ask about patients’ medical histories and their families’ medical histories. Some diseases do run in families, and this information may help doctors to make quick, accurate diagnoses.

Unfortunately, when a doctor fails to pay attention to a patient’s family members’ medical histories, a doctor may be making a huge mistake. One young woman spent years enduring intense pain and suffered medical episodes that put her into the hospital on numerous occasions because doctors could not figure out what was causing her pain. However, had doctors taken into account the medical conditions the patient’s family members had suffered from, doctors could have diagnosed the woman with her rare medical condition much sooner.

The young woman’s story of being misdiagnosed one doctor visit after another was recently featured by The Washington Post. Around the time she turned 13, the young girl began to experience episodes of severe pain in her stomach. The pain would often worsen when she would try to eat. For years, the girl bounced from doctor to doctor and underwent a variety of medical tests to figure out what was causing her pain. However, doctors were stumped. One doctor even tried to blame the girl for exaggerating her symptoms.

The girl’s mother had informed doctors that her family had a history of gallbladder disease, but doctors determined that the girl must have been suffering from something else since gallbladder disease usually doesn’t affect children or teens.

After experiencing another medical episode with severe pain in 2009, a doctor finally discovered that the young woman had a rare gallbladder condition. The young woman had her gallbladder removed, and she has since been able to eat without pain and has not suffered any painful medical episodes. Although the young woman is finally better, her mother wonders why so many doctors failed to consider the family’s history of gallbladder disease.

Source: The Washington Post, “Eating made her sick, but it took doctors years to figure out why,” Sandra G. Boodman, March 25, 2013

Failure to Diagnose


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