Asbestos Update: Doctors Failing to Diagnose Lung Disease
Thousands may have suffered after conditions misdiagnosed
Researchers in Plymouth have established that nearly 39,000 people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) could have been diagnosed earlier, potentially leading to life-improving treatment. These findings are worrying, since misdiagnosis of COPD may have implications for other respiratory conditions, including asbestos injury.
Asbestos under the radar
Michelmores' Kevin Finneran has been concerned for some time that doctors are wrongly categorizing and under-reporting asbestos-caused lung damage. Doctors will often diagnose lung problems as smoking-related, masking the real, asbestos-related cause; even if a patient has been a smoker, asbestos can greatly increase the chances that he will develop a respiratory condition.
'Apart from skewing the statistics about the extent of asbestos injuries in the UK, people who don't know they have these injuries may never realise that their condition was caused by someone else,' Kevin says.
'The fact is that, in many cases, exposure to asbestos in the workplace should not have happened, and former employers can be held accountable for the damage suffered by their workers.' The dangers of asbestos have been known about since before the 1930s.
With this being the case, the Plymouth research raises questions about asbestos disease diagnosis. 'COPD may be occupation-related, arising from conditions in the workplace, but it may act as a smoke-screen masking more fundamental issues such as asbestos injury,' Kevin says.
'We know that the number of asbestos deaths in the UK is expected to peak in the next few years, and so doctors need to remain vigilant to accurately record causes of symptoms. No victim of asbestos-related disease should slip through the net.'
You can read the Plymouth Herald article on misdiagnosis here.
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