An estimated 1 to 3 million people across the U.S. have a condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. POTS is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, the part that controls the internal organs without the person’s conscious effort, so it affects involuntary movements like heart rate, blood pressure and digestion.
Sadly, many patients with POTS are misdiagnosed. A study from the U.K. found that nearly half of patients are mistakenly thought to have a psychiatric disorder. Another study discovered that, on average, POTS patients had seen seven doctors over the course of four years before receiving a POTS diagnosis. POTS mostly affects women under 35, which partly explains the trend: people in that age group usually being healthy, and women usually being at a higher risk for depression.
POTS is characterized by orthostatic intolerance. When patients go from lying down to standing up, they experience circulatory problems that lead to dizziness or fainting, heart palpitations, headaches and bloating or diarrhea. POTS appears to be triggered by events ranging from pregnancy to the incurring of trauma or a viral illness. Some patients experience relief with certain lifestyle changes that increase blood pressure and blood volume, such as consuming more salt, drinking more liquids and avoiding coffee and alcohol. No single medical treatment for POTS exists.
POTS patients who are misdiagnosed may have good grounds for a medical malpractice claim, but for it to be valid, there must be definite proof that the doctor failed to live up to an objective standard of care. A lawyer may help negotiate for a settlement on a client’s behalf.