Gout, the type of inflammatory arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid, is not always diagnosed correctly the first time around. If you were the victim of misdiagnosis here in Arizona, you may be able to seek reimbursement for your injuries. First, though, it could be of benefit to know what conditions gout can mimic. Rheumatologists don’t call gout a “great imitator” for nothing.
Gout mistaken for other types of arthritis
Many patients have pseudogout, which is like gout but caused by a build-up of crystallized calcium pyrophosphate. Doctors could aspirate fluid from the affected joint and distinguish the two based on what they see under the microscope, but this can only happen when patients are in the middle of a flare-up.
Next, there are rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Those with gout in multiple joints can easily be misdiagnosed with RA. Both gout and RA create lumps under the skin: tophi in the case of gout. PsA is characterized by dactylitis, which can inflame the fingers and toes, giving them a sausage-like appearance. This can be mistaken for tophi. If patients have pitted fingernails or skin plaques, then doctors should know immediately that it’s PsA.
Also misdiagnosed as an infection or fracture
Doctors may also confuse gout with a joint infection. This is called septic arthritis, and it will lead, like gout, to fever and a higher white blood cell count. Of course, in the case of gout, the body only thinks it’s fighting off an infection. Next, doctors may diagnose gout as cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection.
Lastly, when gout is in the big toe (it’s not always the case), doctors may suspect that patients have suffered a stress fracture. An X-ray should clear up any doubts.
Filing a claim in the case of serious injuries
If you incurred a serious, life-altering injury as a result of a diagnostic error, then you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. The other side will likely work hard to fight your claim, so you may want a lawyer to assist, especially one who knows something about insurance defense tactics.