Cluster headaches prone to misdiagnosis

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Cluster headaches prone to misdiagnosis

| Jun 16, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

Around one in 1,000 people in Texas and across the U.S. experience what are called cluster headaches. These are painful headaches on one side of the head that can arise several times a day, and a cluster headache attack can last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. A neurological condition, it is no more rare than Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

However, many doctors are unfamiliar with cluster headaches, and so patients have a high risk of being misdiagnosed and only being correctly diagnosed after a long delay. They may be told, rather, that they have migraines, trigeminal neuralgia or even dental problems. As a result, they may undergo the wrong treatments like teeth extraction and intracranial surgery.

The thing is that cluster headaches cannot be treated with painkillers like with other headaches. Patients usually need an injection of triptans or a nasal spray. Oxygen inhalation can also abort a cluster headache attack. Yet doctors who have correctly diagnosed the condition may not order injectable triptans because of their high expense and rather give oral triptans, which have no effect.

It’s crucial that patients be correctly diagnosed. Cluster headaches can cause patients to develop mental health problems, such as chronic depression and suicidal thoughts, and this will only be aggravated with each misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment.

Those who have been misdiagnosed may be wondering if the error was due to medical malpractice. This refers to a failure on the doctor’s part to live up to an objective standard of care. If this can be established as the cause of the error and a link to victims’ injuries, victims may have a valid case on their hands and seek compensation for their losses, such as medical bills and pain and suffering. They may want a lawyer for guidance.