If a medical condition impacts less than 200,000 people in the United States, it is considered a rare disease. It is believed that up to 30 million Americans may have a rare disease, and there are currently over 6,000 known rare conditions. As not all doctors in Connecticut or other states have seen these conditions or because a condition may not yet have been discovered, a misdiagnosis can be common.
When a condition is rare and does not affect many people, it may not provide enough incentive for drug companies to find a cure. This is because the application of any cure may be limited, and the new drug may not be profitable for the company. However, the Orphan Drug Act of 1983 provided such incentive, which has led to the creation of over 500 drugs aimed at curing uncommon medical conditions.
It may be difficult to determine if a patient has a rare disease because symptoms may vary between diseases as well as between patients who may have the same condition. Therefore, patients are urged to educate themselves by going online to learn more about their symptoms. However, they are also urged to only trust information that comes from reputable sources such as the National Organization for Rare Disorders or the National Institutes of Health.
Not all delayed or misdiagnoses constitute medical malpractice. It has to be demonstrated that the health care practitioner failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care. An attorney representing a patient whose disease went unnoticed and thus untreated can make this determination through discussing the matter with medical experts.