Why Is HS Often Misdiagnosed?
It takes patients an average 10 years to get diagnosed with hidradenitis. Find out why it's so tricky for doctors to spot.
Christopher Sayed, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explains why hidradenitis suppurativa can be such a difficult condition to diagnose.
I think one of the biggest challenges for HS is that it is a condition that most physicians didn't learn about during their medical school training. It was never taught it in our medical school curriculum before I became the director of the medical student education, and the students never learned about HS during their initial years. I think most other schools are the same way. People can come through their training and never see HS for some reason.
Misdiagnosis is a huge problem, and if you look 20 years ago with studies that looked at a later diagnosis, the average time it took from symptom onset to getting a diagnosis was about seven years. There was a big global study where you would hope that things improved in the last 20 years, but now the average diagnosis was 10 years in a study that was looking at multiple countries, including the US.
I think patients bounce between an average of five to seven different providers before they actually get a diagnosis. Most of those patient’s condition has worsened, and there's more scarring and disease advancement. Later diagnosis is a major problem. I think we have a great deal to do in terms of educating physicians and training other people who provide care for patients about the disease.