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Patients could be misdiagnosed with hypertension

Aug 3, 2017 | Failure to Diagnose

New York patients who have high blood pressure are at risk for suffering heart failure, stroke and kidney disease. However, many doctors still rely on manual blood pressure measurements to determine whether or not a person has hypertension. A study found that these manual devices may not be accurate, meaning healthy people could be misdiagnosed with the condition.

Hypertension is known as a "silent killer" due to the fact that people with high blood pressure often do not have any symptoms until their pressure gets really high or they develop another associated condition. As such, checking blood pressure during routine doctor appointments is done to quickly rule out high blood pressure. A Canadian study found that about 20 percent of patients had been misdiagnosed with high blood pressure, meaning they were likely taking medication that was not needed. The study indicated that this was due to the use of manual blood pressure devices.

Part of the problem is that, while taking a blood pressure measurement appears to be straightforward, there are many things that can impact the measurement. For example, the size cuff can make the measurement inaccurate. The measurement may also be taken right as a patient arrives, meaning the numbers are likely to be elevated. Finally, some patients suffer from a phenomenon that artificially raises a person’s blood pressure when he or she is dealing with a doctor.

A doctor’s misdiagnosis could cause a patient to take medication that he or she does not need while missing out on timely treatment for the condition he or she actually has. When delayed treatment causes a patient serious harm, a medical malpractice attorney could assist in seeking appropriate compensation.