If you’ve been diagnosed with anaemia and you’re not sure if your doctor got it right, you could actually be suffering from a more serious condition. Discover if this could be you, here…
Anaemia is an often-misdiagnosed condition due to the commonality between anaemia symptoms and those of other conditions. There are tests your doctor or local hospital can do to see if you have anaemia. That said, due to the vagueness of these symptoms, they may miss a more serious underlying condition.
If you have been misdiagnosed and this has caused you undue suffering, you can sue your GP for negligence. That said, before it goes as far as this, doing some research into your symptoms so you can better describe them to your GP is your first port of call.
In this post, we’re going to explain what the anaemia symptoms are, and provide some insight into what it can be misdiagnosed as or be a symptom of. We’ll then give you some advice on whether you can sue your GP for negligence if the misdiagnosis has caused you severe harm. So, to find out more about where you currently stand in your diagnosis journey, read on…
What is Anaemia?
Anaemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your body’s tissues, including the heart.
There are several different types of anaemia, each with their own causes. They can be temporary or long term and range from mild to severe. The most common types of anaemia are:
- Aplastic anaemia
- Iron deficiency anaemia
- Sickle cell anaemia
- Vitamin deficiency anaemia
What Are the Symptoms of Anaemia?
Anaemia symptoms can vary depending on the type on cause. In some cases, you might have no symptoms at all, which can make it pretty tricky to spot. The most common anaemia symptoms across all types are:
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Irregular heartbeats
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Chest pain
- Cold hands and feet
You might not notice anaemia symptoms at first because they’ll be quite mild. But, as your anaemia worsens, they should become more apparent.
What Conditions Anaemia Symptoms Often Get Confused For
If you look at the list of anaemia symptoms above, they’re quite generic and can easily be mistaken for other conditions with the same symptoms. So, to give you a better idea of what we’re dealing with, it’s important you get clued up with what anaemia can be mistaken for. In this section we’re going to look at the conditions anaemia can be mistaken for and the serious conditions anaemia could be a sign of…
Conditions Anaemia Could be Mistaken For
There are too many conditions with anaemia symptoms to list here, so we’ll give you a quick rundown of the most common ones:
Arrythmia has similar symptoms to anaemia because both of them cause chest pain, light-headedness, shortness of breath and irregular heartbeats. Arrythmia is caused by the heart beating irregularly, too slow or too fast. This is usually quite common and nothing to worry about, but if it persists and is left untreated, it may be life threatening.
Angina has very similar symptoms to arrythmia, and anaemia and can be misdiagnosed in its place. Because angina is a condition where the heart doesn’t receive enough blood, it can appear as anaemia where there aren’t enough red blood cells carrying oxygen to the heart.
It can be caused by blood clots, narrowing of arteries near the heart, and plaque build-ups. In the end, these issues can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.
As we mentioned above, anaemia symptoms include light-headedness, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and heart murmurs. The same symptoms are apparent in cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle struggles to pump blood around the body because it’s too thick.
This can lead to a low blood cell count – the same as anaemia – and it can be life threatening if left untreated, as it’s progressive disease.
4. Iron Deficiency Anaemia and Thalassemia
Even within the anaemia community, different varieties of the condition can be diagnosed as each other. The clearest example of this is between iron deficiency anaemia and thalassemia.
Thalassemia is a disorder of the haemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells, which causes mild anaemia in small red blood cells. Because the lab values are very similar to iron deficiency, it’s easy to misdiagnose one or the other even when the appropriate blood tests have been carried out.
Conditions Anaemia Could be a Symptom of
The conditions mentioned above can only be misdiagnosed if your doctor doesn’t do the right tests or confuses one result of a test for another. However, sometimes doctors successfully diagnose anaemia but don’t recognise that it’s a symptom of a more serious condition. Some of the more serious causes of anaemia include:
Leukaemia – a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues – can actually cause anaemia. As leukaemia blood cells multiply rapidly, little room is left for normal red blood cells to develop and if the number drops too low you develop anaemia. This means that, if you have anaemia symptoms and a doctor diagnoses you with the condition, you might actually have leukaemia.
2. Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. It can be painful, debilitating and sometimes life-threatening.
One of the common symptoms of the disease is anaemia, so if you have anaemia you should stay on the lookout for symptoms of Crohn’s disease that differ from anaemia. This can include ulcers in the gut, loss of appetite, weight loss, and rectal bleeding.
Can You Sue Your GP for Negligence if They Misdiagnose Your Anaemia Symptoms?
Now that we have an idea of some of the serious conditions that could be mistaken for anaemia, and others that have anaemia as a symptom, it’s time to talk about whether you can sue your doctor for not diagnosing you with the right condition.
Making a Case
To be able to file for clinical negligence, you need to prove that your treatment was carried out negligently, and this led to direct injury. This could be because they gave you medication that harmed you, or the condition they missed caused you injury.
The fact that it injured you is the important distinction. If your doctor misdiagnosed you and you can’t prove that the undiagnosed condition harmed you, then you can’t make a case for negligence.
This is why it’s a good idea to speak to a solicitor who specialises in medical misdiagnosis cases. They will be able to assess whether you have a decent case or not.
If you find a solicitor who believes you have a decent case, make sure you start the legal claim within 3 years of the misdiagnosis, or when you first realised you’d been misdiagnosed. Basically, as soon as you find out you’ve been misdiagnosed speak to a solicitor and get the ball rolling.
Compensation You Can be Awarded
If your anaemia symptoms were misdiagnosed as something else and you prove it in court, the court can award you injuries or losses in the following forms:
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Payment for ongoing treatment
- Compensation if you can’t carry out certain activities or hobbies
- Loss of earnings
- The cost of any extra care or equipment you may need
- The cost of adapting your home
- Compensation for psychological damage
Paying for the Claim
Hiring a solicitor can sometimes be expensive. Nevertheless, there are ways around this. For example, you can find one a no win no fee solicitor, who will only take a cut of your winnings at the end of a successful case. If the case isn’t successful, however, they will not require any payment from you.
Alternatively, you could speak to your trade union, if you’re a member of one. Or, you could even take out legal expenses insurance, which is similar to house insurance. As you can see, there are always ways around this.
What Should I do Now?
In this post, we’ve managed to cover what anaemia is, and listed some of the common conditions it can be misdiagnosed as. We’ve also given you some advice on seeking legal restitution for any damaging misdiagnoses you might have had.
Anaemia symptoms are common across many conditions. If your doctor doesn’t diagnose them properly, perform the correct test, or misread your test results, you might have something more serious than anaemia.
If you’ve been diagnosed with anaemia, but you think it might be something more serious, go to your doctor and ask for more tests. If you’ve already discovered that your doctor has misdiagnosed you and you’ve suffered injury as a result, speak to a solicitor.
Thank you for reading this post and good luck with your anaemia diagnosis or legal action, if you choose to go down that route.