When people in Florida notice that they have a tremor in their hands or that their gait has become unsteady, they may worry that they have Parkinson's disease. This is a progressive, chronic neurological disorder, and its symptoms are highly recognizable. However, there are an array of other disorders with symptoms that are similar to those of Parkinson's, and in order for patients to receive proper treatment that can minimize their symptoms, an accurate diagnosis is necessary.
In some cases, even family doctors may move toward a Parkinson's diagnosis based on symptoms alone. However, a neurologist should be better equipped to differentiate between various disorders. One disorder that can appear similar to Parkinson's is essential tremor, a movement disorder that leads to uncontrollable shaking for brief periods. It can affect the hands, head and neck, voice and sometimes other parts of the body. As a general principle, if shaking occurs when a person is resting, it is likely to be caused by Parkinson's, but if it happens while in action, it could be essential tremor.
In other cases, people may have Parkinson's-like symptoms, but actually have a drug-induced form of Parkinson's. This disorder can be a side effect of certain drugs like mood stabilizers or antipsychotics and is best treated by adjusting medication. Because of these similarities, Parkinson's is misdiagnosed in nearly 30 percent of cases. This can lead to incorrect treatment decisions that could negatively affect a patient's health and prevent them from getting the correct treatment.
When people are misdiagnosed by a doctor, it can have dangerous results, especially when a progressive disorder is involved. People who have suffered a worsened health condition due to a doctor error can consult with a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer might be able to review the case and determine the potential to seek compensation for a patient's damages.