Pennsylvania residents should know about bronchiectasis, a condition where the lung’s airways become damaged and allow mucus to build up. A series of reports, which were published in Case Reports in Pulmonology, have found that bronchiectasis is liable to be misdiagnosed among HIV patients.

The reports focused on 14 HIV patients with bronchiectasis who were treated either at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center or the Kings County Hospital Center, both in New York City, between 1999 and 2018. Their ages ranged from 12 to 77, and 12 of the patients were women. Half were thought to have mycobacterium avium complex, and 43% were believed to have pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia and underwent treatment for it.

Only in the later stages of their disease were patients referred to a pulmonary specialist. None were given bronchodilator therapy, but most were given antimicrobials to kill a wide range of bacteria.

Researchers believe that the reasons for this high rate of misdiagnosis include the high volume of patients and limited number of resources in these two inner-city medical centers. Another factor is the relatively lower income and education levels of these HIV patients. While these 14 patients were chosen because they were the only ones with both HIV and bronchiectasis, researchers believe that the combination is far from being rare.

Patients who had a condition misdiagnosed or did not receive the correct diagnosis until they had suffered irreversible harm may have a medical malpractice case on their hands. It all depends on showing that the diagnostic error was the result of negligence. To this end, victims may want to hire a lawyer. The lawyer might, in turn, hire investigators to gather whatever evidence there is of negligence. Victims may leave it to their lawyer to negotiate for a reasonable settlement.