Young women living in Santa Fe should know that there’s a disorder of the autonomic nervous system out there called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. It may be little-known, but it affects between 1 and 3 million Americans, 80% of whom are women. POTS seems to affect women under 35 the most.

What’s more is that POTS is the subject of frequent misdiagnoses. A U.K. study found that nearly half of POTS patients were initially thought of as suffering from depression or another psychiatric disorder. This makes sense when one considers how the symptoms of POTS resemble those of depression: for instance, fatigue, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms.

There are other connections that doctors might make that lead to a misdiagnosis. They will see that the young woman had no previous physical health problems, and they will remember that women are more susceptible than men are to depression. Still, the error is unacceptable. One study found that POTS patients had to see an average of seven doctors before getting a POTS diagnosis. It took around four years for most to receive that diagnosis. POTS affects blood flow, especially when patients go from lying down to standing up. Its cause is unknown, though certain events like pregnancy, major surgery or trauma are known to trigger it.

Diagnostic errors are among the most frequently cited reasons for medical malpractice claims. Such errors can, after all, lead to patients undergoing the wrong treatment while the condition they really suffer from worsens. Patients should not be responsible for these costs; still, they should be aware that it takes a lot to build up a malpractice claim. They may start by hiring a lawyer, who, in turn, may hire third parties to investigate the case. The lawyer may handle all negotiations.