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Cluster headache patients frequently misdiagnosed

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

New Jersey residents will want to be aware of a neurological condition called cluster headache because it affects 1 in 1,000 people. Though this may make it sound rare, it’s actually no rarer than Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. Unlike these well-known conditions, cluster headache is often the subject of diagnostic errors.

First of all, cluster headache is unlike other headaches. Cluster headache attacks can occur several times a day and last anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. The pain has been compared to the pain experienced in childbirth. Cluster headache is sometimes known as “suicide headache” because of the suicidal thoughts that many people have during these attacks. The condition is often linked to chronic depression.

Doctors can mistake it for a number of conditions, including migraines, but it differs from cluster migraines in that it does not cause nausea and light sensitivity. Doctors may also think it to be sinusitis or a dental problem. The reason for these misdiagnoses may be that doctors don’t know enough about cluster headache.

Even when doctors do diagnose it as cluster headache, they may prescribe ineffective treatments. For example, rather than prescribing injections of the drug called triptans, they may prescribe oral triptans because this is more cost-effective. They may be unaware that oxygen inhalation is another effective treatment.

Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses may be the result of negligence on the doctor’s part, in which case patients who were injured by the error might have a case under medical malpractice law. They may have had to undergo unnecessary treatments while suffering from physical and emotional pain as their true condition persisted. With a claim, they might be compensated for these and other economic and non-economic damages. It may be good to have a lawyer assess the case before filing.