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What Are the Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions?

April 1, 2014 R

When someone is treated in the intensive care unit of a hospital, doctors and nurses closely monitor any changes in his or her health. As a result, most people expect patients staying in ICU to receive the highest quality medical care available. Even though various hospital staff and equipment banks surround ICU patients, diagnostic errors are still incredibly common in this part of the hospital.

Heart attack

Commonly known symptoms of heart attack include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and light-headedness. However, lesser-known heart attack symptoms include fatigue, nausea, and back pain. In fact, women are more likely to experience the lesser-known common symptoms than men. As a result, doctors often mistakenly diagnose a heart attack as heartburn or a gallbladder infection. Sometimes, the symptoms are so mild that neither the doctor nor the patient notices something significant is happening.

Pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism occurs when a lung artery suddenly develops blockage. This usually triggers shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing. However, these symptoms are often confused with those of an asthma attack, pneumonia, or bronchitis. Doctors can detect a pulmonary embolism by ordering a CT scan of the patient’s lungs. If an embolism is present, doctors can prescribe clot-busting and blood-thinning medications. In some cases, surgery is required to remove the clot.


Pneumonia refers to an infection of the lungs that leads to inflammation. This results in coughing, fever, and chills. Some people with pneumonia begin to experience difficulty breathing. However, sometimes doctors confuse lung infections with asthma or tuberculosis. This can be especially problematic because different types of treatment are required for different forms of pneumonia. Delays in accurately diagnosing pneumonia can delay the antibiotic or antiviral medication needed to clear up the infection.

Pegalis Law Group is one of the nation’s premier law firms representing victims of medical malpractice. Our Long Island medical malpractice attorneys are dedicated to helping those who suffer injuries due to another person’s negligence. For more information about our services, please contact us at (516) 684-2900.