Medical Malpractice and Epilepsy Misdiagnosis
Like many other medical conditions, the symptoms of epilepsy can be very similar to the symptoms of other types of illnesses, leading to many cases of misdiagnosis. Since it can be so difficult for medical professionals to determine whether or not a person is having epileptic or non-epileptic seizures, a 2014 study by UCLA found that the average time between a person’s first seizure and the diagnosis of non-epileptic seizures is seven years. In the time it takes for a correct diagnosis to be reached, people are often given medical treatments for epilepsy that are inappropriate for the real underlying condition.
Many different conditions can be mistaken for epilepsy, but psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) may be one of the most common. Recent research from Yale has found that about 1 in 4 patients admitted to hospitals for a seizure evaluation have PNES. The types of seizures caused by PNES are the result of psychological factors and tend to be more common in people with histories of anxiety, psychosis, behavioral problems, abuse, PTSD, and mood disorders.
The types of seizures caused by PNES may resemble epileptic seizures, but unlike epileptic seizures, seizures caused by PNES do not involve abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Since many people aren’t aware of the subtle differences to watch for in PNES seizures, people with PNES are often prescribed drug treatments intended for epilepsy instead, which they may not respond to.
Some other types of conditions like meningitis, encephalitis, brain injuries, and eclampsia. Some types of seizures may also be mistaken for epileptic seizures, such as diabetic seizures. Or febrile seizures. In some cases, a person can have a single seizure without a discernible cause and never have another seizure again. These are known as first seizures and they can be mistaken for epilepsy.
Not only is it very common for cases of epilepsy to genuinely be misdiagnosed, there have also been cases of people intentionally being misdiagnosed with epilepsy as part of schemes to order unnecessary tests and treatments that the doctor would financially benefit from. This has happened right here in the Metro Detroit area, with Dr. Yasser M. Awaad being accused of running an EEG mill in 2019.
An epilepsy misdiagnosis can have a profound impact on your life. Even misdiagnoses involving epilepsy are common, that doesn’t mean they’re acceptable. If you or a loved one received an incorrect diagnosis involving epilepsy, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a medical malpractice lawyer. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have lawyers experienced in handling medical misdiagnosis cases in Michigan. We can help answer all of your questions and work with you to handle your case. Contact us today to get started.