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The frequency of asthma misdiagnosis

New Mexico residents may be alarmed to learn that studies have found that up to 30 percent of the people diagnosed with asthma may not in fact be suffering from the chronic lung disease. The failure to diagnose the correct breathing disorder can sometimes be made worse by asthma medications, which may do more harm than good when patients are not suffering from the condition.

The number of Americans diagnosed with a breathing disorder stands at one in 12, but these numbers are growing every year. Experts believe that many of the 25 million people diagnosed with asthma may struggle for breath due to a heart condition. Other possible causes of asthma-like symptoms include vocal cord dysfunction or a reaction to certain medications. Another aspect of the problem is the high cost of asthma treatment, which the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, put at over $50 billion each year.

The situation persists largely because doctors often take a quick and simple approach when confronted with a patient who has trouble breathing. Prescribing an inhaler is a straightforward solution, but pulmonologists suggest that patients ask their doctors for a breathing test. This type of test is effective at identifying the underlying problem, and it would be a prudent step considering the frequency of misdiagnosis in this area.

Patients suffer in two ways when their conditions are misdiagnosed. The medications prescribed may be of little help, or they could make matters even worse, and their real medical issues are not being addressed. For some patients, this can have catastrophic consequences. An attorney with experience in this area may be able to bring a legal action seeking a monetary award for clients who have suffered as a result of this type of medical mistake. They could also help to hold negligent doctors responsible for their actions.

Source: CBS Philly, "Health: Asthma Misdiagnosis Is Common", Stephanie Stahl, December 17, 2013

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