Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a frustratingly difficult condition to diagnose. In fact, almost 40% of patients initially receive a false negative result after going through a battery of tests. Here are some reasons why this happens and the actions you can take in Illinois when misdiagnosed.
ALS is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord (motor neurons), which govern voluntary muscle movements (actions you can consciously control) like talking, chewing, swallowing and walking. Its cause is still unknown, but some researchers believe that mutations in the C9orf72 gene may play a role in its development.
Reasons for misdiagnosis of ALS
The common reason for misdiagnosis is that the initial symptoms of ALS, such as muscle weakness, twitching and trouble speaking or swallowing, mimic other conditions like multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, stroke and Parkinson’s disease. To make matters even more complicated, as the disease progresses, the symptoms vary from person to person. Doctors have a hard time pinning down ALS as they are looking for something that isn’t there.
What can you do if misdiagnosed
If a doctor misdiagnosed you or your loved one, resulting in a delay of proper treatment and exacerbating the condition, Illinois law allows you to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against them. You will need to prove that they failed in their duty of care by not following medical standards. If you succeed, the court may award you compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
While ALS is a challenging disease that often masks itself under the guise of various other conditions, awareness and timely action can significantly improve the situation. Being proactive in seeking a second opinion when the initial diagnosis is unclear can potentially lead to quicker identification of the disease, thereby improving patient outcomes.