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Failing to diagnose anaphylaxis could lead to death 

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

If you or someone you know has a life-threatening allergy, then you may be familiar with the signs of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of an allergic reaction and is usually unexpected. Even a short delay in clinical diagnosis could lead to the person’s airway closing or full vascular collapse, which can be fatal without rapid treatment.

There are a few common signs of anaphylaxis that medical providers should recognize, such as swelling in the eyes or swelling of the tongue. Not recognizing the difference between asthma and anaphylaxis, or assuming that someone is having a moderate allergic reaction instead of acute anaphylaxis, could be catastrophic.

Why do some medical providers fail to diagnose anaphylaxis?

One of the issues with anaphylaxis is that the symptoms are similar to those of other cardiovascular issues, like an asthma attack. Additionally, symptoms of anaphylaxis usually develop within five to 30 minutes after exposure, but they may not become severe or develop fully for several hours. 

It’s also possible to have a biphasic response, which is a secondary reaction to an allergen hours after the initial reaction. A biphasic reaction may happen as long as 72 hours after the exposure. This is even after using epinephrine or other medications to control the reaction.

Failing to identify the signs of anaphylaxis could lead to inappropriate treatments, such as the use of corticosteroids or bronchodilators when the allergic reaction itself has yet to be reversed with antihistamines and epinephrine. 

What can you do if you or your loved one suffered after a misdiagnosis?

Failing to diagnose this common condition is unacceptable, especially in emergency medicine where it’s often seen. If a provider fails to provide appropriate care, then patients and their families should look into their legal rights and options for a medical malpractice case.