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.

Young people who complained of knee or thigh pain failed to receive a timely diagnosis more often that patients who said that they had hip pain. An orthopedist who worked on the study said that primary care physicians needed to be attentive to complaints of knee or hip pain from overweight and obese adolescents and investigate the possibility of a hip problem.

Many diseases have a range of symptoms, and a physician who fails to evaluate relevant ones might cause harm. A patient whose condition worsened or who received unnecessary treatment after a misdiagnosis might want to meet with an attorney who handles medical malpractice and who could arrange for an independent physician to review the medical records. If this third-party expert provides testimony that the physician failed to meet the accepted standards of care, then an attorney could prepare a lawsuit seeking applicable damages.

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