Philadelphia Pennsylvania Personal Injury Law Blog

Primary myelofibrosis, Gaucher disease prone to misdiagnosis

Doctors in Pennsylvania and elsewhere could have trouble distinguishing between primary myelofibrosis and Gaucher disease when diagnosing patients, according to a report. The report was published in the journal Act Haematologica.

Primary myelofibrosis, or PMF, is a disease that affects the body's blood, bone marrow and liver, while Gaucher disease is an inherited disorder of the metabolism that can also affect the liver and other organs. The report focused on a 1994 case involving a 32-year-old woman who was misdiagnosed with PMF when she actually had Gaucher disease. The patient had a low white blood cell count, low platelet levels and an enlarged spleen and liver. A bone marrow biopsy and an analysis of her liver led doctors to diagnose her with PMF. She was treated with chemotherapy, but she had still not recovered after two years. Another bone marrow biopsy was performed, which revealed the presence of Gaucher cells. A blood test also indicated she had Gaucher disease.

Delayed diagnoses for cancer can make a major difference

Most people would do anything they can to avoid a diagnosis of cancer. After all, cancer often means that you will undergo invasive therapies and/or surgeries. Radiation and chemotherapy, in particular, can leave patients feeling much more ill than they did before their diagnoses. This knowledge can leave patients dreading hearing the "C" word from their doctors.

However, accurate and timely diagnoses are critical to the potential for recovery for most patients. Cancer is much more treatable than it used to be, but early diagnosis and treatment are imperative for positive outcomes. When a doctor fails to diagnose cancer, that can make all the difference for the available treatment options and patient prognoses.

Poverty and obesity linked to diagnostic delay of hip disorder

Factors beyond symptoms reported by patients in Pennsylvania sometimes contribute to diagnostic delays. A analysis of 596 patients representing cases across 23 years suggested that obesity and low income impeded an accurate diagnosis of slipped capital femoral epiphysis, an adolescent problem with the hip joint.

The physicians who wrote the study concluded that the hip condition had a strong association with young and obese people from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the study, every year nearly five SCFE cases emerge among every 100,000 people age 16 or younger. Among the cases studied for the report, 75.4 percent of the patients had to visit primary care physicians multiple times before receiving an accurate diagnosis. This occurred despite the medical records showing that patients presented with symptoms associated with the hip problem.

Study finds many breast cancer patients can skip chemotherapy

Many early-stage breast cancer patients in Pennsylvania and around the world may not need to undergo chemotherapy, according to a new study. The results of the study were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago on June 3. They were also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Doctors currently use a 21-gene test to assess a breast cancer patient's risk of recurrence. Researchers from the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group analyzed the effectiveness of this test and found that it can accurately predict if a woman would benefit from chemotherapy. That means that around 70 percent of women diagnosed with early-stage hormone-receptor positive, HER2-negative breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy and stick with estrogen-blocking treatments.

Surgical errors can often be prevented and must be addressed

Patients who go into the hospital or an outpatient facility for surgery entrust their care to people whom they believe are competent. They don't expect that they will be harmed during the surgery. Unfortunately, people can suffer serious injuries and might even die due to errors in the surgical suite.

Many things can go wrong in the operating room. It is imperative that each member of the team has control over the duties for which they are responsible. When one person doesn't do things correctly, the patient can suffer. Surgical errors can lead to patients needing additional medical care down the road and impact the patient's quality of life.

Mistakes with diagnosing patients can put them in harm's way

Patients who go to the doctor expect that they will get an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. One study that was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice shows that more than 20 percent of people who have a serious medical condition were initially misdiagnosed. This mean that there are patients who aren't getting the treatment they need to address their health problems. In some cases, such as with cancer, this leaves the condition to worsen.

This study looked at patients who sought a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic. Of the cases studied, only 12 percent of people had gotten an accurate initial diagnosis by their primary care physician. Some others had a diagnosis that was in line with the Mayo Clinic's finding but not an exact match.

How can a mild brain injury ruin relationships?

After victims suffer a mild brain injury, they may not realize for some time that they actually face a serious recovery. Unlike many other injuries, mild brain injuries may not begin causing problems for days or even weeks after the injury occurs, making them difficult to diagnose and treat, often until the victim suffers significant avoidable losses.

In great part, this is because brain injuries may affect such a broad range of the victims' personal and professional lives that by the time a victim and his or her medical care providers identify and treat the injury, its impact on the victim's interactions with others has already taken a great toll.

Study finds doctors failing to diagnose serious eye condition

Pennsylvania residents who are 50 years or older are at risk for age-related macular degeneration, a condition that causes a loss of central vision. However, a study published in the JAMA Ophthalmology found that about 25 percent of cases were not diagnosed by trained eye care professionals. Failing to properly diagnose AMD could be problematic, especially as the baby boomer population reaches the age when this particular condition becomes more prevalent.

For the study, researchers reexamined 644 patients who had had a dilated eye exam conducted by an eye care specialist. They found that 25 percent of the patients who had not been diagnosed with AMD actually showed signs of the condition. While there is no cure for the disease, there are some forms of treatment available to slow the progression. Researchers found that 30 percent of individuals who showed signs of the condition would have benefited from treatment, which often includes specific vitamin and mineral supplements.

Your injury could mean a very long recovery

In the immediate aftermath of a serious injury, it is not always easy to take stock of the many ways that your recovery may impact your life. Building a fair injury claim depends not only on providing clear documentation of the medical costs the injury incurs, but also the many other areas that suffer because of the injury.

This often creates a difficult balancing act for victims. On one hand, the mounting medical bills brought on by the injury can seem overwhelming, and may threaten to destroy the victim's financial world. On the other hand, if the victim jumps at the first settlement offer he or she receives to alleviate this pressure, that offer is probably for significantly less than the true cost of the injury.

Study of mitochondrial disease describes "diagnostic odyssey"

A new report published in Neurology Genetics has shown that patients with mitochondrial diseases see an average of eight different physicians before they're even diagnosed. This "diagnostic odyssey" is something that residents of Pennsylvania will want to know more about if they suspect that they're suffering from a mitochondrial disease.

Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center created a 25-item questionnaire with help from the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, and this was given to 210 patients with self-reported mitochondrial diseases. One startling find was that the initial diagnosis patients received was incorrect in 55 percent of cases. 32 percent claimed they were misdiagnosed multiple times. Among the most common misdiagnoses were psychotic disorders, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

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