Women Have a Higher Rate of Diagnostic Error
Significant research has shown that women are more likely than men to have illnesses go undiagnosed, be misdiagnosed, or experience delayed diagnosis—particularly for certain conditions. There is also evidence that women tend to have to wait longer than men for treatment, especially when it comes to pain management.
Our Atlanta husband-and-wife legal team wants to take a look at three prominent ailments that women and girls commonly have a hard time getting diagnosed. We often handle serious cases of illness and injury.
Endometriosis is a chronic and progressive condition that occurs when uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus. This is a problem because, during menstruation, this tissue responds to hormones the same way as the tissue within the uterus, resulting in inflammation and the accumulation of scar tissue within the body. Girls and women with endometriosis experience debilitating pelvic pain, heavy and extended menstrual bleeding, spotting between periods, pain during sex, fatigue, nausea, and severe headaches.
The reason endometriosis is so difficult to diagnose is mainly because it shares symptoms with many other medical conditions. Women with endometriosis are often misdiagnosed as having bladder infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, sciatica, uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome, interstitial cystitis, pelvic floor dysfunction, or “normal menstrual discomfort.”
Because of this, women typically wait 10 to 12 years to get a correct diagnosis of endometriosis, many not getting the diagnosis until they find they are unable to get pregnant.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease (CHD), or coronary artery disease, is caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries that deliver oxygen to the heart and other organs. This is usually due to the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. While CHD is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, it tends to be underdiagnosed in women. This may be because most of the clinical studies on CHD have been conducted on men, and the symptoms of the disease tend to be different in the two sexes; but that is no excuse for medical professionals. They need to know both sets of symptoms and take quick action accordingly to prevent heart attacks and other serious medical complications in female patients.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is a chronic mental condition that impairs a person’s ability to pay attention and is characterized by hyperactivity and impulsiveness. In children, it can negatively impact development and ability to function. It can also impair a person’s life in adulthood. Doctors diagnose more boys with ADHD than girls, and girls are usually not diagnosed until they are older.
On average, boys usually get a diagnosis of ADHD around age 7, while girls generally have to wait until they are around 12 years old. Early intervention is critical in treating ADHD in children, so a delay in diagnosis can have a lifelong impact on a child. The five years between ages 7 and 12 are crucial in a child’s development, so if girls tend to be diagnosed later, it is to their detriment. Sadly, many women never get a proper diagnosis for this condition. Recent studies estimate that only 25% of females with ADHD ever receive a diagnosis.
Because of the disparity in diagnosis between men and women, it is vital that women and the parents of young girls be proactive when interacting with physicians. If you aren’t happy with the care you’re receiving, you need to seek a second opinion.
When Do You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
If you’ve experienced a misdiagnosis, a delayed diagnosis, or a failure to diagnose a health issue, you need to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Atlanta’s Grant Law Office has been successfully representing Georgia residents for over a quarter of a century – let us put our knowledge and skills to work on your claim. Call (404) 995-3955 for a free case evaluation.
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