Lupus is an autoimmune disease that targets your immune system and affects many parts of your body. Its symptoms can vary from person to person and can mimic those of other conditions, leading to a high rate of misdiagnosis.
A staggering 46.5% of people with lupus report getting the wrong diagnosis. Others were told that they were in perfect health. However, lupus can cause complications and damage vital organs the longer it is left untreated.
Why is lupus hard to diagnose
Because lupus symptoms can mimic those of other diseases, it has been nicknamed “the great imitator.” Many times, lupus is misdiagnosed as:
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Hypothyroidism and
- Multiple sclerosis
Its initial symptoms, such as hair loss, joint pain, fatigue, or anemia, are also non-specific. To complicate matters further, its symptoms may change as the condition progresses or appear only when the patient is under stress.
Unfortunately, no single test can accurately diagnose lupus. Your doctor will need to run multiple blood tests and review your medical history. They might also need to investigate your genetic background.
Steps to take after a misdiagnosis
Some patients had to do their own research, consult with another physician, or keep track of their symptoms before learning they had lupus. If you have suffered damages due to a misdiagnosis, filing a medical malpractice claim could help you receive compensation. In order to successfully file a claim and earn compensation, you will have to show that:
- Your doctor owed you a duty of care
- Your doctor breached this duty by failing to meet the standard of care
- The failure caused your misdiagnosis and led to injuries or damages
To demonstrate a standard of care and how your doctor failed to provide it, you will typically need to provide testimony from a medical expert in the same field. The court may also require medical testimony to establish how your doctor’s negligence contributed to your harm.
Because of the many different symptoms they produce, autoimmune diseases like lupus are notoriously tricky for doctors to identify. Even if the court rules that there was no medical malpractice, you may still be awarded damages. A medical malpractice attorney can advise you on your best options and fight for fair compensation.