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The Case of the Naval Management Analyst’s “Simple Foot Infection”

GavelOne in every 20 adults, or an estimated 12 million people, will be medically misdiagnosed when seeking professional medical advice. Fifty percent of these cases will lead to a more serious condition, all because of an inaccurate diagnosis.

Case in point: a 41 year old United States Navy management analyst had become accustomed to periodical instances of neuropathy or a persistent numbness of her extremities. This condition was attributed to an allergic reaction stemming from medication taken years ago for a gynecological infection. The condition worsened, and additional symptoms of warmness of the skin, inflammation of both feet, and blistering areas of the skin began to crop up.

As the symptoms presented without pain, the analyst decided that the “infection” would heal on its own and eventually dissipate. During the course of the infection, the analyst opted for changing her footwear, but new symptoms, including itching and tingling in both of her feet, appeared. She also experienced blotches of redness on a daily basis.

Still hoping the condition would clear up on its own, the analyst, during a visit to an urgent care center with her son, discussed her condition with the attending physician. A diagnosis of a fungal infection was provided and the medical recourse was an over-the counter medication. Unfortunately, the topical ointment only irritated the condition and the “fungal infection” began spreading.

During the peak of this skin condition, the analyst was hospitalized for a gynecological procedure and once again sought medical advice. She was told that if the condition was of a serious nature, it would have affected all of her toes and not just one digit.

Following her release, the analyst experienced such intense foot irritation that removing her shoes while seated became an everyday occurrence. Once again, she consulted with her primary care physician, and once again, the diagnosis was a fungal infection. Another topical ointment was prescribed, but it only appeared to increase the symptoms.

She did not fare much better in her her next two visits either. One was to a podiatrist who dismissed the possibility of a vascular problem., The other was with cardiologist where she discussed the possibility of peripheral artery disease. Again, she hit a dead end. Meanwhile, the inflammation and discomfort spread to all of her toes.

Frustrated, the analyst turned to the internet and began researching her symptoms. The internet search suggested possible small fiber neuropathy or erythromelalgia (EM). Small fiber neuropathy correlated with the burning sensation and severe foot pain she had experienced, and erythromelalgia, first medically noted in 1878, reflected the red, hot, and painful symptoms she had experienced.

Reaching the point of desperation, the analyst contacted the National Organization for Rare Disorders. The organization, a member of the Connecticut-based clearinghouse and a leading advocate group, leaned toward a case of extreme EM and suggested the analyst schedule an appointment with a neurologist.

Armed with her cellphone, which was full of photos of her condition, the analyst met with a neurologist who also leaned toward symptoms of EM, but since the physician had only witnessed EM once or twice in his career, he could not provide an infinitive diagnosis.

The analyst was then scheduled for testing at Johns Hopkins to rule out any underlying blood or autoimmune disorder. The results ruled out the possibility of cancer, lyme disease, and various autoimmune and bone-marrow diseases. Further testing also denied any indication of a genetic mutation that could cause the EM symptoms.

Her next medical visit was with a rheumatologist and hematologist who suggested that the analyst was experiencing symptoms of primary idiopathic EM, but the cause was unknown.

Following this appointment, the analyst accepted that she was prepared to live her life with the persistent symptoms as, through her research, it was noted by the Mayo Clinic that only 10 percent of all EM suffers resolved the condition. Yet she had spent a great deal of time confused and frustrated about her condition - time that could have been spent coping with her illness. There is also the possibility that something could have been done to help her, had the condition been diagnosed sooner.

Although this case may be seen as out of the norm, the misdiagnosis of any alignment or delay of diagnosis can result in further physical and even psychological harm. If you or a loved one have experienced the worsening of a misdiagnosed condition, you have legal recourse. For those residing in the northern California area, the skilled San Jose medical misdiagnosis malpractice attorneys of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. can help. Relying on our experience, knowledge of the medical profession, and a sincere dedication to our clients, we will fight to get you and your loved ones the compensation you deserve. Contact our office at (408) 289-1417 to learn more about our services.

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