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Misdiagnosed sleep disorders can lead to medical malpractice

Thinking of misdiagnosed cases as an uncommon occurrence can be a comforting thought to California patients, but that thought is not an accurate representation of the reality of the health care world. Patients across the United States of America continue to suffer needlessly after being misdiagnosed by both primary care physicians and specialists, and one class of disorders -- sleep disorders -- is particularly prone to being missed altogether. In such instances, medical malpractice through misdiagnosis makes it difficult or even impossible for patients to receive the correct treatment.

Current data indicates that about 70 million patients suffer from at least one type of sleep disorder. Unfortunately, over 40 million of those patients are not even aware of the disorders that they suffer from. Many sleep disorders end up being diagnosed as something different altogether, even when patients attempt to advocate for themselves and their systems.

Restless legs syndrome -- or RLS -- is a sleep disorder that causes a variety of uncomfortable and throbbing sensations. Affecting up to 10 percent of adults, patients are often told they have arthritis, anxiety or even a back injury. Obstructive sleep apnea is another commonly missed diagnosis. Up to 18 million out of an estimated 25 million sufferers are still undiagnosed. Even with testing, mild apnea can easily be missed and requires follow-up testing in order to ascertain the correct diagnosis.

A lack of sleep can affect more than just a person's mood or wakefulness, and ongoing sleep deprivation can even have a negative impact on a person's long term health. California patients expect doctors to take their concerns and symptoms seriously in order to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment. When doctors fail to do so or act in negligence, patients can suffer continued injuries that require additional medical care and treatment. Addressing these damages is not always easy, but most victims can successfully achieve compensation after successfully navigating a medical malpractice suit.

Source: richmond.com, "Consumer Reports: Millions in the dark about sleep disorders", April 2, 2016

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