Hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS, is a painful and progressive skin disease that afflicts approximately 1 in 100 people. Although it is not classified as a rare disease, people in Washington suffering from the skin lesions and boils associated with HS will likely encounter physicians who do not recognize the disease. A survey of patients showed that 64% of them had to see five or more physicians before an accurate HS diagnosis occurred. The mean amount of time that people spent struggling with HS before diagnosis equaled 10 years.
No skin or blood tests exist that can detect HS. The diagnosis of the condition is dependent on physicians recognizing the disease during a physical exam. Too often, physicians assume that the hard, puss-filled or bleeding lesions are basic abscesses. They drain the boils and prescribe antibiotics but sometimes fail to advise patients to seek follow-up care.
Without a proper diagnosis, an HS sufferer could become partially disabled because the lesions can progress to the point where they cause significant pain when people walk or lift their arms. The lesions and boils tend to cluster in the groin or under armpits although they can erupt on the buttocks, on stomach folds or under breasts. Discharges from the lesions can also smell bad and reduce a person’s quality of life. Treatments for HS can reduce suffering, but a case that has gone on for too long without appropriate treatment might require surgery.
Prolonged suffering, a worsening condition and missed treatment opportunities due to a physician’s failure to diagnose could ascend to the level of medical malpractice. Discussing the issue with an attorney might inform a victim about the strength of the case. A victim of physician negligence may ask an attorney to file a claim for damages related to lost income and medical expenses.