Law Office of JoJene E. Mills, P.C.
520.529.3200 Toll Free 866.529.3201

The problem of overdiagnosis

While you may have heard of instances in Arizona of diseases not being diagnosed by doctors, there is another form of medical malpractice you may not be familiar with. Just as some conditions are not detected by doctors through a failure to diagnose, conversely some people will actually be overdiagnosed, or diagnosed for a disease or condition they do not possess.

Overdiagnosis can be harmful to people because it results in a person taking medicines and treatments that the body does not require. Additionally, a patient may pay far more in medical bills than is necessary to treat a condition when exercise or lifestyle changes are sufficient. A Time magazine article chronicled a recent study that showed people are being overtreated for hypertension, even though they possess only a mild form of it. Hypertension patients are taking drugs to lower their blood pressure, even if the drugs’ ability to prevent cardiovascular disease and death remained unknown. The researchers of the study concluded the overdiagnosis was not needed and racks up costs of $32 million per year in the United States.

Other diseases are susceptible to overdiagnosis. Right Diagnosis describes Irritable Bowel Syndrome as a disease that can be mistakenly diagnosed when another disorder such as Crohn's disease or Celiac disease might actually be the culprit. Sinusitis is commonly overdiagnosed when another cause of sinus inflammation like the flu, asthma or the common cold may be present. Some also consider Lyme disease to be an overdiagnosed disorder because it exhibits non-specific symptoms, plus there is a lack of defintitive tests to confirm the presence of the disease.

Overdiagnosis can affect people of all ages. Older people are at times incorrectly diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Infants and young children can be overdiagnosed with a middle ear infection, specifically otitis media. Doctors may see redness in a child's ear and prescribe antibiotics when it is not necessary.  Doctors can also incorrectly diagnose a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and prescribe Ritalin when a different behavioral disorder may be at issue. Additionally, the child may in fact be healthy and is only exhibiting regular childhood behavior.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information