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Doctors wrongly diagnose encephalitis as a mental illness

While on a family vacation in Florida, a young woman experienced a panic attack. The woman had never suffered from panic attacks or anxiety in the past. Yet the symptoms continued to get worse. After seeking medical treatment upon her return home, medical professionals diagnosed the woman with bipolar disorder.

The diagnosis was a surprise. The family did everything they could to treat the disorder. They agreed to commit her into a psychiatric ward for additional treatment. Her condition continued to deteriorate and she suffered a seizure.

Her family realized something was wrong. They removed her from the psych ward and pushed for additional testing. A test for encephalitis came back positive.

What is encephalitis? Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain that can result in confusion, agitation and hallucinations. In this case, the disease led the woman to suffer panic attacks, have delusions that her family was trying to kill her and ultimately triggered a seizure.

Medical experts with the Mayo Clinic note that encephalitis is broken into two types: primary and secondary. Primary encephalitis occurs when the inflammation is caused by something that directly infects the brain, like a virus or bacteria. Secondary encephalitis occurs when the body's immune system has an inappropriate response to an infection in another part of the body.

What causes encephalitis? The herpes virus, poliovirus and childhood infections as well as various mosquito and tick-borne viruses can all trigger encephalitis.

Do victims of misdiagnosis like this have legal remedies? Victims in similar situations can hold medical professionals legally accountable if the medical professional failed to provide an accepted level of care to the patient. This could include a failure to properly treat symptoms or order required testing.

If successful, the case can result in monetary awards to help the victims move on with their lives.

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