Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a condition that causes persistent respiratory issues such as progressive breathlessness and cough. It’s a serious condition, but it is one for which there are treatments.
Unfortunately, many of the patients who are diagnosed with this disease may be living with misdiagnoses. According to a study from npj Digital Magazine, 9,597 of 284,154 patients in one study were determined to have atypical symptoms and disease progression compared to others with COPD. They were more likely to have been over-diagnosed or misdiagnosed, according to researchers.
16 million Americans are affected by COPD
Diagnostically, around 16 million Americans are said to have this condition, but COPD is really just an umbrella term that may cover a number of illnesses leading to trouble breathing. Some of the conditions that fall under COPD include:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic asthma
Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis is troubling for patients. When doctors believe that a patient has COPD, they may stop looking for other underlying causes such as lung cancer or heart failure. A misdiagnosis may lead to a delay in treatment, which makes it more likely for people to die from other conditions.
Over-treating COPD is problematic, as well
In another study, researchers found around 2,386 people who were over-diagnosed with COPD but were likely dealing with other conditions. An over-diagnosis is correct, but that diagnosis has negative effects for other reasons, such as overmedicating a patient who otherwise would have had no symptoms or problems.
This is well-reflected in the Mayo Clinic’s finding that many people who have COPD actually have a mild form of the illness that requires little therapy. Over-diagnosing these patients may lead to them taking medications that are harmful or that have adverse side effects.
What should you do if you’re hurt by a misdiagnosis or over-diagnosis?
If you’re injured due to a misdiagnosis or over-diagnosis, you can look into making a claim for medical malpractice. Your health is a priority, and if your symptoms were not taken seriously or were misdiagnosed when they shouldn’t have been, then you may have a case against your medical providers.