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Heart patients often wrongly diagnosed with aspirin allergy

Nov 18, 2015 | Failure to Diagnose

According to a new study, cardiac patients in New York and nationwide are often misdiagnosed with an aspirin allergy and taken off of aspirin therapy without ever being tested by an allergist. This means that many patients needlessly lose the benefits of an effective and inexpensive cardiovascular treatment that has few side effects.

The authors of the study, which was presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting, examined the medical records of 5,052 cardiac patients. Of the patients who had a history of gastrointestinal symptoms, researchers found that 34 percent of them were mistakenly diagnosed with aspirin hypersensitivity. They further determined that only 2.5 percent of the patients actually had aspirin hypersensitivity, which is an exaggerated immune response by the body to an agent but not a diagnosed allergy.

The researchers also discovered that none of the patients thought to have aspirin hypersensitivity were ever referred to an allergist for proper testing. One patient had a severe allergic reaction and one displayed respiratory symptoms, but the most common documented reaction was skin irritation, appearing in 19 percent of the hypersensitive patients. No proper reaction documentation was provided in 39 percent of the cases. According to the authors of the study, anyone thought to have an aspirin allergy should be referred to an allergist. Allergists can help those who are truly allergic to find alternative therapies and those who are merely sensitive to manage the symptoms.

New York residents who have been the victim of a doctor’s misdiagnosis may want to discuss their situation with an attorney. In some cases, legal counsel might determine that the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician would be advisable.