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Rheumatologists commonly misdiagnose vasculitis

New Jersey rheumatology doctors should use great caution when diagnosing patients with suspected vasculitis, according to a presentation at the Rheumatology Nurses Society Annual Conference. Apparently, the condition is easy to misdiagnose, leading to improper treatments such as high-dose steroids.

The presenter, who is a doctor and the president of Independent Healthcare Associates, Inc., said that it is important for rheumatology health care providers to treat suspected vasculitis cases with "a high index of suspicion" because several other conditions, such as endocarditis, cholesterol emboli, and certain rare central nervous system conditions, can mimic its symptoms. Meanwhile, patient drug use can also cause drug-induced vasculitis, which is quite different from idiopathic vasculitis syndromes. If doctors don't do enough testing to screen for these conditions, mistakes can be made, leading to serious consequences for the patient.

For example, the presenter recalled a case where a rheumatologist failed to order blood cultures or consider a patient's fever before coming to a vasculitis diagnosis. However, the patient was actually suffering from endocarditis and went on to have a debilitating stroke due to the misdiagnosis and improper treatments.

Patients depend on doctors to accurately diagnose their medical conditions. Unfortunately, that does not always happen, and they can be harmed as a result. When this occurs, it might be helpful to consult with an attorney to get advice. The attorney could review medical records, assess the case and recommend legal remedies to the situation. One possible solution could be to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who misdiagnosed the patient. This could lead to a settlement that covers a variety of damages.

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