While kidney disease can cause life-threatening complications, health care providers often fail to diagnose this chronic condition. Over time, the untreated disease can cause nerve damage, hypertension and fluid in the lungs.
Review the most common reasons why serious kidney problems, which affect an estimated 10 to 15% of Americans, go undiagnosed.
Doctors may attribute the signs of early kidney disease to other health conditions. These symptoms, such as high blood pressure, unexplained weight loss, nausea, vomiting and chest pain, can occur with many diseases. In a study published by the American Journals of Kidney Disease, primary care physicians were more likely to miss kidney disease based on symptoms than specialists such as nephrologists.
Years of practice
The AJKD study also found that misdiagnosis of kidney disease more commonly occurred with older doctors. These physicians were in practice for 10 or more years at the time of the study and may have been less familiar with the updated diagnostic standards for chronic kidney disease.
Multiple chronic conditions
Missed diagnosis of kidney disease occurs more often in people who have type 2 diabetes, according to research published by the National Kidney Foundation. The study found that nearly half of cases went undiagnosed in these individuals, who have a higher risk of kidney problems than the general population. More than half of the study participants never received a diagnostic protein test and 15% went more than 15 months without a kidney function test.
If you or a loved one experienced severe illness related to untreated kidney disease, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim if your doctor failed to diagnose this issue.