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Maryland medical malpractice: Diagnosing and treating sleep apnea

There is a medical condition of which many Maryland residents may not be aware, known as sleep apnea. This is something that can affect adults and children, both males and females. This is also a medical problem that many doctors are failing to properly diagnose. As the long-term effects of sleep apnea can be quite severe, even fatal, those who suspect that they or a loved one were not appropriately treated for this condition may pursue medical malpractice claims against providers believed to be responsible.

So, what is sleep apnea and what are the consequences of not getting treated? Sleep apnea is defined as the involuntary interruption of breathing while asleep. There are three known types of sleep apnea, which are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Central sleep apnea
  • Mixed sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person's airway becomes blocked, making it impossible for air to enter the lungs. This usually happens due to the soft tissues in the throat collapsing. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send the signal to breath. Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both.

To diagnose sleep apnea, a patient generally has to go to an overnight sleep clinic. There, they will be hooked up to numerous monitors that show brain activity, breathing, muscle movement and oxygen levels. The results of that test will show a physician if a patient has sleep apnea, how severe it is and what type. If sleep apnea is confirmed, patients can be treated with breathing machines, oxygen, dental devices and even surgery.

If sleep apnea goes undiagnosed and untreated, patients will typically experience high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, strokes, memory problems and a variety of other symptoms -- all of which can take a significant toll on a person's health. Unfortunately, sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed as depression, stress and/or anxiety, so proper treatment is not provided. Maryland residents who believe they have been misdiagnosed (or a family member has been), resulting in severe injury or even death, can pursue medical malpractice claims against those deemed responsible. Fair and full compensation may be awarded after the successful establishment of negligence at a jury trial, or through out of court negotiations.

Source: sleepapnea.org, "Sleep Apnea", Accessed on May 28, 2015

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