The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as many as 30.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from diabetes. That number includes 7.2 million people – or 24 percent of the total – whose cases are undiagnosed. Instead, their symptoms may be attributed to other conditions such as flu, asthma, sinus infections, and other less serious conditions. Even a slight delay in the diagnosis of diabetes can result in serious complications and expenses for those who have the condition.
If you believe that you or your loved one has suffered harm due to a delayed diagnosis of diabetes, you should seek immediate legal assistance from Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. We can bring nearly four decades of experience to your case and a record of obtaining more than $1.5 billion on behalf of our clients. We can provide a timely and free consultation about your potential medical malpractice case and advise you of your legal rights and options.
What Is Diabetes?
Most of the food we eat is turned into sugar, or glucose, which our bodies can then use for energy. The pancreas creates a hormone called insulin that is critical to the digestive process. It allows glucose to enter our cells.
Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when the body is unable to properly metabolize blood glucose due to a failure to make enough insulin or to use it as it should. This in turn, leads to excessive levels of glucose in the bloodstream. If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems, including, but not limited to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and lower-extremity amputations. In fact, the CDC estimates that diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the nation.
Two main types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. However, Type 1 accounts for only five to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Genetic, autoimmune, and environmental factors often play a role in developing Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is much more common and is more likely to be the result of:
- Old age
- Family history
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- Physical inactivity
- A prior history of gestational diabetes
- Race or ethnicity.
Rarer forms of diabetes can even be caused by malnutrition, drug use, infections, surgery, and specific genetic syndromes.
How Is Diabetes Treated?
The specific kind of treatment that someone with diabetes must undergo depends on whether he or she has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. However, regardless of the type of diabetes a person has been diagnosed with, treatment is generally focused on returning the amount of glucose in the blood to a normal level. For those with Type 1 diabetes, this usually involves the use of insulin injections to help keep glucose levels down, while those with Type 2 diabetes are urged to make changes in their lifestyle and focus on losing weight, eating healthy, exercising regularly, or reducing fat and sugar intake. In some cases, people with Type 2 diabetes may also need to take insulin-based medication.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
The symptoms of diabetes are wide-ranging. They include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extremely dry skin
- Blurred vision
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Unexplained fatigue
- Repeated infections
- Stomach pains.
Unfortunately, many of these symptoms are also characteristic of other more commonplace medical conditions, such as:
- Fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Cushing’s Disease
- Sinus infections
- Viral infections
Because these problems are symptomatic of a number of different illnesses, many people who suffer from diabetes are misdiagnosed and prescribed or treated for the wrong disease. In fact, thousands of people who have diabetes never obtain a diagnosis at all. This is because some of these symptoms such as fatigue, dry skin and extreme hunger are things that many of us experience on a daily basis.
Because the consequences of failing to treat diabetes are so severe, a timely and accurate diagnosis is particularly critical. After assessing a person’s age, family history, weight, and symptoms, doctors can determine whether a patient could possibly suffer from diabetes. Physicians who suspect that a patient may have diabetes usually order a simple urine test. If this test comes back positive for high levels of glucose, the patient may then be asked to take a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. Ordering and taking these tests is a relatively straightforward process, which makes it especially frustrating when physicians fail to accurately diagnose this condition.
Although failing to order the appropriate tests is one of the most common causes behind the delayed diagnosis of diabetes, failing to diagnose or treat patients for diabetes in a timely manner could also be the result of:
- The use of faulty equipment
- Faulty blood glucose tests results
- A physician’s failure to interpret test results correctly
- A physician’s failure to direct a patient to fast the night before tests
- A physician’s failure to suggest follow-up visits when symptoms indicate a pre-diabetic condition.
Furthermore, failing to diagnose diabetes early can cause serious complications, including:
- Kidney failure resulting from blocked blood vessels
- Loss of a limb due to impaired blood circulation
- Heart disease or stroke caused by increased clot formation
- Blindness resulting from retinal damage
- Damage to the circulatory system
- Nerve damage in the legs and feet
- Skin and mouth conditions
- Miscarriage and stillbirths
- Hearing impairment
- Osteoporosis or fractures.
Any one of these conditions can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life and, in some cases, can even lead to death. In these cases, it is crucial for victims to speak with an attorney about filing a delayed diagnosis lawsuit and seeking damages to cover the cost of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and more.
Contact Our Experienced Illinois Delayed Diagnosis Attorneys
Filing a lawsuit against a physician for failing to diagnose diabetes can be difficult. It requires an in-depth investigation and a review of the doctor’s actions by a qualified medical expert. At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our dedicated attorneys have nearly 40 years of experience with handling these types of claims and can offer the resources and connections to ensure that your case is carefully reviewed by a medical specialist. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our delayed diagnosis legal team, please contact us today through our offices in Chicago and Waukegan.