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POTS patients may see 7 doctors before accurate diagnosis

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome affects up to 3 million people nationwide according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center at the National Institutes of Health. People in Michigan with the condition likely experienced difficulty when seeking answers about their symptoms. One study concluded that the average person with POTS saw seven doctors before the disease was accurately identified.

POTS impedes the autonomic nervous system’s regulation of heart rate, digestion and blood pressure. When someone with POTS gets up from lying down, the heart rate might jump by 30 beats per minute because blood flows back to the heart too slowly. Typical symptoms are dizziness, blurred vision, gastrointestinal distress and fainting. About 80% of POTS patients are women, and the disorder arises most often in young people.

Because symptoms appear in people who otherwise seem healthy, doctors tend to misdiagnose patients with mental health problems, like depression or anxiety. Mistakes like this can be very frustrating, as one woman reported, because symptoms can be severe enough to keep someone in bed. Medical researchers speculate that POTS might develop after a physically stressful event, like pregnancy, traumatic injury, viral infection or major surgery. Patients sometimes find relief through lifestyle adjustments and prescription medications.

A misdiagnosis robs a person of opportunities to try therapies. Someone whose suffering was apparently prolonged because a medical professional failed to recognize a disease could be the victim of medical malpractice. A doctor who did not investigate symptoms according to accepted standards might have acted negligently. A person could speak with a lawyer to gain clarity about legal options after suffering medical malpractice. A lawyer who litigates medical cases may have independent doctors to consult and provide testimony to back up an insurance claim or lawsuit.

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Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC

3049 Miller Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

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