POTS, a disorder easy to misdiagnose

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2020 | Failure To Diagnose

Ohio residents, especially women under 35, need to know about a disorder called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. It affects the autonomic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system that controls the internal organs without one’s conscious effort and, thus, has control over things like heart rate, blood pressure and digestion. It is not necessarily a rare disease, as 1 to 3 million Americans have it, but it is easy to misdiagnose.

One study found that nearly half of POTS patients were initially misdiagnosed as having a psychiatric disorder. According to another study, patients see an average of seven doctors over four years before receiving a diagnosis of POTS. There are several reasons for this. The symptoms resemble those of depression, and 80% of POTS patients are young women, who are otherwise healthy yet generally more prone to depression.

Specifically, the symptoms are connected to orthostatic intolerance. POTS patients experience circulatory problems that manifest themselves when they go from lying down to sitting up. The result can be dizziness, headaches, nausea, blurred vision and gastrointestinal symptoms.

There is no definite medical treatment for POTS, though certain lifestyle changes aimed at increasing blood circulation and blood volume are known to help. These include drinking more fluids, avoiding alcohol and caffeine and consuming more salt.

The failure to diagnose a condition can have consequences in the long term. Patients may undergo unnecessary treatments while their true condition worsens. There is the financial side to consider as well. Fortunately, those who are misdiagnosed and who can prove that they were the victims of malpractice may be reimbursed for their monetary and non-monetary damages. It means filing a malpractice claim, so victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case first and determine how strong it is.

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