A rarity in diagnosis: cluster headaches

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Cluster headaches are a relatively rare condition affecting around 0.1% of Texans and others around the country. Nicknamed the “suicide headache,” this neurological condition can last from 15 minutes to three hours and occur several times a week, resulting in a significant reduction in quality of life. Unfortunately, a recent study has shown that many general practitioners and health professionals do not know how to adequately diagnose cluster headaches.

Symptoms for a cluster headache are often misdiagnosed as a migraine or other sinus or dental problem. Patients sometimes undergo teeth extraction or surgeries that are unnecessary. The severity of these cluster headaches often manifests mental health conditions reducing the quality of life of the patient through emotional distress, chronic depression and suicidal thoughts.

When general practitioners misdiagnose the condition, it can result in significant delays in the patient receiving the correct diagnosis. Even if the condition is diagnosed correctly, general practitioners don’t always follow secondary care instructions and will prescribe oral triptans as opposed to nasal injectable triptans due to the cost savings for the patient. The apparent tension between primary and secondary care is often at the cost of the patient in their time, health and well-being.

Victims of a diagnostic error can file for medical malpractice to recover some costs or for retribution for their prolonged discomfort or mental instability. For example, a patient presenting with pain on one side of their face with sinus and tooth pain that is excruciating could be misdiagnosed with a sinus infection in need of surgery. After surgery, the pain may still be present from a cluster headache that could have been treated simply with a nasal injection. The lost wages and physical and emotional trauma might be sought after with the help of a qualified attorney for medical malpractice.