Hypertension, which is also known as high blood pressure, is among the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions in the United States. This includes both (i) failing to accurately diagnose a patient’s hypertension, and (ii) incorrectly diagnosing a patient with hypertension when in fact the patient is either fine or suffering from a different medical condition.
In either scenario, the cost of a hypertension misdiagnosis can be substantial. If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient’s hypertension, the patient can go without the medication he or she needs, and this can have a wide range of consequences. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to an aneurysm, coronary artery disease, stroke, dementia, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, heart failure, kidney failure, and death. Patients who are misdiagnosed with hypertension can go on blood pressure medications for years. If they have a different medical condition that requires treatment the failure to treat this condition can potentially have wide-ranging effects as well.
3 Common Causes of Hypertension Misdiagnosis
So, why are hypertension misdiagnoses so common? Medical research points to three primary factors. These factors are:
- Inaccurate Measurement – Despite advancements in medical technology, the use of inflatable cuffs is still the primary method that doctors use to measure patients’ blood pressure and test for hypertension. However, as one doctor recently told Healthline, “It seems like blood pressure is easy to measure, but almost no one does it correctly.” If a doctor inaccurately measures a patient’s blood pressure, this can quickly lead to a diagnosis of hypertension, and this diagnosis can stay with the patient for years—if not the rest of his or her life.
- Whitecoat Hypertension – The term “whitecoat hypertension” refers to the fact that many people experience heightened blood pressure as a result of visiting their doctor. This is both well-documented and well-known within the medical community. It should cause doctors to second-guess an early hypertension diagnosis. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and as a result, many patients who have normal blood pressure under normal conditions end up being placed on medication for hypertension unnecessarily.
- Masked Hypertension – Masked hypertension is essentially the opposite of whitecoat hypertension. When a patient goes to the doctor his or her blood pressure is fine but, when the patient returns to the stresses of his or her everyday life, their blood pressure rises. Masked hypertension frequently results in a failure to diagnose. In many cases, doctors will misdiagnose other signs of hypertension as symptoms of another medical condition.
In addition to these initial causes, failure to monitor is a factor in many hypertension misdiagnosis cases as well. Patients who have hypertension should visit their doctors regularly, and their doctors should continue to monitor their blood pressure to determine whether different medications and/or additional treatment are necessary.
Ongoing monitoring would also allow doctors to identify a prior hypertension misdiagnosis. However, many doctors do not conduct adequate monitoring during follow-up visits. Once they diagnose a patient with a particular condition many doctors do not remain open to the possibility that their initial diagnosis may have been incorrect.
Proving a Hypertension Misdiagnosis
If you believe that your doctor may have misdiagnosed your medical condition what should you do? Proving your hypertension misdiagnosis is important as this may afford the opportunity to recover financial compensation for your doctor’s mistake. A misdiagnosis is a form of medical malpractice and in cases of medical malpractice, patients can recover financial compensation for their medical expenses, medication costs, emotional trauma, and other financial and non-financial losses.
There are four primary steps involved in establishing a medical malpractice claim based on a hypertension misdiagnosis:
1. Obtaining an Accurate Diagnosis
The first step is to obtain an accurate diagnosis of your medical condition. For this, you should see a new doctor at a new healthcare facility. You should explain why you have concerns about your current diagnosis and you should ask your new doctor to thoroughly screen for signs of hypertension (as well as any other medical conditions about which you may be concerned).
2. Understanding What Caused Your Misdiagnosis
After obtaining an accurate diagnosis and receiving the appropriate medical treatment you should next focus on understanding what caused your misdiagnosis. In order to do this, you will need to engage an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Your attorney will be able to review your medical records and consult with experts to determine whether you have a claim against your original doctor.
3. Showing that Your Doctor Should have Provided an Accurate Diagnosis
If you received a misdiagnosis recovering financial compensation will involve proving that your original doctor failed to treat you with the appropriate standard of care. In most cases, this means showing that your doctor failed to accurately measure your blood pressure.
To accurately measure a patient’s blood pressure, doctors can use ambulatory blood pressure monitors that measure a patient’s blood pressure at regular intervals over a 12 to 24-hour period. These devices provide a much more accurate measurement than the traditional cuffs and they avoid the risk of both: (i) misdiagnosing whitecoat hypertension as a permanent or chronic condition and (ii) overlooking a patient’s condition due to masked hypertension.
4. Calculating the Costs of Your Hypertension Misdiagnosis
The final step in proving your right to compensation is calculating the financial and non-financial cost of your hypertension misdiagnosis. This also requires experienced legal representation. Your attorney will look not only at the costs you have incurred to date but also the costs that you are reasonably likely to incur in the future to calculate the costs of your doctor’s mistake. With a clear picture of the financial and non-financial costs of your doctor’s mistake, your attorney can then pursue an appropriate claim for compensation on your behalf.
Contact the Connecticut Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Berkowitz Hanna
Are you concerned about a possible hypertension misdiagnosis? Has your current doctor confirmed that your prior doctor’s diagnosis was incorrect? If so, our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers can help you seek the financial compensation you deserve. Call 203-447-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.