Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when tissue similar to the inner lining of the womb is found elsewhere in the body and it can affect women of any age. It is extremely important that it is diagnosed early in order to ensure better health outcomes for women that have been affected by this condition.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a long term, chronic condition where tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places outside of the uterus. Examples of where they could grow would be the ovaries or fallopian tubes.
Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in the UK and it is the second most common gynaecological condition.
Symptoms of Endometriosis:
The symptoms of endometriosis can vary between patients but some of the common symptoms that women may encounter with endometriosis are:
- Pain in your lower tummy
- Pain in your back
- Period pain that stops you from doing any normal activities
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain when you wee or poo during your period
- Feeling sick when on your period
- Constipation or diarrhoea when on your period
- Blood in your wee or poo during your period
- Difficulty when trying to get pregnant
- Heavy periods
Treatment for Endometriosis:
Endometriosis currently has no cure but there are treatments that are able to help ease the symptoms and pain for the patients that have been diagnosed. These treatments can include:
- Hormone medicines and contraceptives
Diagnosis of Endometriosis
Diagnosing endometriosis can be difficult, this is due to the varying symptoms that can occur with the condition and because there are many other conditions that can cause a woman similar symptoms.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that relate to endometriosis then it is important to go and speak to your doctor and it is likely that they will carry out a pelvic examination, if they suspect that you have got endometriosis then you may also need a laparoscopy as this is the only way to confirm whether or not you have the condition. During a laparoscopy, a camera will be inserted into the pelvis via a small cut near your belly button, and after this, your doctor will be able to confirm if you have got endometriosis or not. This will then allow you to receive the necessary treatment if you have got endometriosis.
Even though a laparoscopy is the only way to confirm endometriosis, not every patient will need one. It is likely that you will not need one if your symptoms can be managed without.
The Impact of Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis for Endometriosis
The varying symptoms of endometriosis mean that healthcare workers are not able to easily diagnose it and this can cause a significant delay between the beginning of symptoms and the diagnosis. The average time that it takes to get diagnosed with endometriosis in the UK is 7.5 years.
Having such a delay in diagnosing endometriosis can have detrimental effects for the patient. Without a quick diagnosis, patients will continue to suffer from pain due to the condition and this could impact their quality of life. It could also lead to the condition getting progressively worse and becoming more difficult to treat.
It is important that improvements are made when it comes to diagnosing endometriosis because if the patients are receiving a faster and more accurate diagnosis, then it will mean that they will be able to receive the correct treatment and will likely improve their lives.
NICE Guidelines for Treating Endometriosis
In 2018, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence introduced guidelines in order to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of patients that have endometriosis. They have described three high-priority areas that should improve the quality of diagnosing and treating endometriosis.
The three quality statements that they released are:
- “Women presenting with suspected endometriosis have an abdominal and, if appropriate, a pelvic examination.”
- “Women are referred to a gynaecology service if initial hormonal treatment for endometriosis is not effective, not tolerated or contraindicated.”
- “Women with suspected or confirmed deep endometriosis involving the bowel, bladder or ureter are referred to a specialist endometriosis service.”
The quality standards that have been created by NICE are supposed to improve a defined area of care. In this case, the quality standards are supposed to be there to improve awareness of endometriosis, increase the rates of early diagnosis, improve the quality of life for any women that are suffering with endometriosis, allow patients to access specialist services and allow women to manage their pain.
These quality standards should be achievable by local services, and the achievement levels of 100% should be aspired to, however this may not always be appropriate for certain practices. The overall aim of the guidelines is to drive up the quality of care.
Delayed Diagnosis Negligence
Being diagnosed with endometriosis can be extremely devastating for the patient, and knowing that if the diagnosis was made sooner and things could have been different can make it even more devastating.
Receiving a delayed diagnosis for endometriosis can cause patients an increased amount of pain and can affect their livelihood. If you have experienced a delayed diagnosis for your endometriosis condition, then please contact Patient Claim Line and one of our medical negligence experts will be able to guide you through your claims process.