When diagnosing respiratory infections, doctors in Illinois and across the nation may soon be required to ask patients whether they have a history of vaping or using electronic cigarettes. According to Reuters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 1,300 individuals have lung injuries linked to vaping; the symptoms, however, are very similar to the most common respiratory infections.

Electronic cigarettes are taking off in their popularity, but some physicians may not yet fully understand how to accurately diagnose respiratory illnesses connected to the new trend. A delayed diagnosis could result in adding more fatalities to the growing health crisis brought on by vaping-related injuries. When an individual complains about symptoms of fever, shortness of breath, coughing, nausea and chest pain, a physician might initially misdiagnosis the patient as suffering from the flu or a fungus infection.

As noted in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 72% of vaping patients in Wisconsin and Illinois first went to an emergency room or outpatient clinic to seek medical treatment. When the prescribed antibiotic medications failed, patients were later admitted to a hospital for treatment of severe lung injuries related to their use of vaping products. Reportedly, patients responded favorably to steroids and oxygen, but a delay in receiving the proper treatments carries the potential to cause severe harm.

As of October 8, 2019, Illinois has reported between 100 and 149 lung injury cases to the CDC. Accordingly, e-cigarette and vaping products that contain THC or nicotine may play a significant role in the increase of lung injuries.

A misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis may have a serious impact on a patient’s health. It may also incur damages such as extended medical treatments which could have been avoided, or lost time from work for recovery. Serious pain and suffering, and even death may also occur. A medical malpractice suit may be required to adequately compensate an individual for damages resulting from a delayed or incorrect diagnosis.