Montana residents should be aware that there is a little-known skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, and it’s the subject of many misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses. A July 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published the results of a survey where 64% of HS patients said they had to visit five or more physicians before being formally diagnosed with it. Some had to wait over a decade for the correct diagnosis.
HS is characterized by boils that develop in those areas of the skin with hair follicles or sweat glands: for example, the armpit, folds of the stomach, buttocks and groin. These boils will seep out pus, disappear and then return. It is a chronic and painful disease; 15% of respondents in the JAAD survey report being disabled by it. It affects around 1 in 100 people.
Lack of awareness of the condition among doctors is one reason why HS patients are so often misdiagnosed. Their symptoms are seen as isolated incidents and addressed using temporary treatments like incision and drainage. Patients themselves may contribute to the delay by being hesitant to talk about the boils with a doctor.
If left untreated, HS will result in scarring and impaired mobility. HS patients may also suffer psychologically, developing feelings of isolation.
No cure exists for HS, but patients can still be effectively treated. As for those who believe that the delay in their diagnosis was due to medical malpractice, they may file a claim to be reimbursed for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, lost wages and other economic and non-economic damages. Proving the doctor’s negligence can be hard, though, so victims may want legal assistance. Third-party investigators might come in to gather the proof against the defendant.