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Vaping-related lung injuries prone to misdiagnosis

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Washington residents who use vaping products should know that nationwide, there have been more than 2,600 cases of people being hospitalized for vaping-related lung injuries. Sixty deaths have been confirmed across 26 states. This is according to CDC data.

Now, a report published in the Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians claims that these vaping-related lung injuries are frequently subject to misdiagnosis. It refers to the case of a 20-year-old man who had to visit three emergency departments before receiving the correct diagnosis. Misdiagnosis  in emergency rooms is a serious and ongoing problem. 

This man had been vaping THC when he developed a condition characterized by an intermittent fever, a coarse-sounding cough and extreme weight loss. He had lost more than 20 pounds before seeking emergency care. At the first two visits, he was diagnosed with a viral illness and with bilateral pneumonia, respectively.

During the second visit, he was admitted to the hospital and given antibiotics. Only when he failed to improve did he leave the hospital and receive a third opinion. After the third (correct) diagnosis, he was treated with prednisone, improved and was taken off oxygen within 48 hours. The report underscores the need for emergency physicians to take a complete social history of patients. They should also be aware of the radiologic features that denote a vaping-associated lung injury.

Doctors often misdiagnose a condition out of negligence, in which case the victim may be justified in pursuing a malpractice claim. Vaping-related lung injuries progress quickly, so victims may be left dealing with serious conditions that require long-term medical care. If they are successful with their claim, they may be reimbursed for these medical expenses, any lost wages and other applicable losses. Such cases require a skilled medical malpractice attorney to assist with the filing and litigation of the claim if necessary and with the negotiating of a settlement.