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HS: a commonly misdiagnosed skin condition

In the July 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology can be found the results of a survey concerning the diagnosis of a skin disease called hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS. Iowa residents should know that in this multinational survey, 64% of respondents said they had to visit five or more physicians before being formally diagnosed with HS. Diagnoses were sometimes delayed for over a decade.

HS is a chronic, non-contagious disease characterized by painful lumps that form under the skin, primarily in those areas with hair follicles and sweat glands, and fill up with pus. The fluid will seep out, and the boils return. The effect of this can be devastating with nearly half of respondents in the JAAD survey saying it has had an “extreme impact” on their life. Almost 15% say that HS has disabled them.

Infection, scarring and depression are just some of the complications that can arise from HS. HS is commonly associated with diabetes, heart disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome. About 1 in 100 people develop HS, and it affects three times as many women as it does men.

For many HS patients, their symptoms are misconstrued as isolated incidents. Patients may be embarrassed to bring the matter up, though, since the boils can develop in areas like the buttocks and groin.

Delayed diagnoses and misdiagnoses can lead to injuries, and if there is proof that the error was caused by doctor negligence, then victims may have a case under medical malpractice law. It all starts with having a lawyer evaluate the case. Third-party investigators might come in to conduct an independent investigation while the lawyer request an inquiry with the local medical board. Once the evidence is gathered, the lawyer may be able to negotiate for a settlement covering past and future medical expenses and other losses.

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