Migraine sufferers in Illinois know all too well how headaches of this nature can affect their daily life. Because of the way nerve pathways and chemicals in the brain are affected by this condition, however, symptoms associated with migraines can mimic symptoms of other conditions. This unique characteristic of migraines sometimes leads to misdiagnoses. According to one study, only one in 20 patients are correctly diagnosed with migraines.
The possible danger of a doctor error with a migraine that’s not diagnosed correctly is the potential for patient harm from treatment efforts for the wrong condition. When primary symptoms include nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and head pain, for instance, a misdiagnosis of anxiety may be made if migraine episodes are misinterpreted as panic attacks. Since some types of migraine also cause a sensation of a loss of balance (vertigo), a misdiagnosis of an inner ear disorder called Meniere’s disease that has similar symptoms may be made.
A hemiplegic migraine produces symptoms that may include a loss of sensation or weakness on one side of the body, which sometimes results in an assumption that a patient has had a stroke. Migraine aura symptoms that include sensory and visual changes can be confused with the type of seizures experienced with epilepsy. Patients with migraines may also be mistakenly treated for a sinus headache if they are experiencing facial pain. Under certain circumstances, it could also be assumed that a patient with migraine symptoms has post-concussion syndrome or side effects from other medications.
The failure to diagnose a migraine could be considered a form of medical malpractice, even though diagnosis is based on an assessment of patient symptoms. In order to win damages in a case like this, a lawyer has to show that a patient experienced harm from a misdiagnosis that may take the form of increased pain and suffering, additional medical expenses, and an inability to enjoy an acceptable quality of life. An attorney may demonstrate that a standard of care wasn’t achieved by bringing in medical experts to review and interpret the same information that the patient’s doctor had access to.