Friday, April 4, 2008

My first endocrinologist and a misdiagnosis of Hashimoto's disease

One of the things I mentioned in my last post, about my first endocrinologist, was a misdiagnosis of Hashimoto's disease.

In retrospect, my doctor seemed way too eager to diagnose me with this disease. Coupled with his eagerness in prescribing medications to me left and right, whether I really needed them or not, it makes me wonder if he got a kickback from the drug companies.

In any case, this is what his report says about my visit and labs from June 2002, literally only a week after my discharge from the hospital:

Hypothyroidism, Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis. TFTs were repeated due to her previous slightly abnormal thyroid functions tests with TSH in the high normal range at 3.91. Laboratories indicate that Katharine has Hashimoto's disease with high antibody levels and is likely to rapidly become hypothyroid. I will send Katharine out a prescription to begin Synthroid 50 mcg daily and follow her thyroid functions regularly to appropriately titrate her thyroid hormone dose. We will further discuss her thyroid disease at her next visit.

My endocrinologist actually called me at work to tell me I had Hashimoto's disease and would become hypothyroid. He said he would be sending out a prescription for me, but he never did. His report on my next visit stated:

Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis. Thyroid functions remain int he normal range indicating that she does not need thyroid hormone replacement yet.

After that it was never mentioned in his reports again, and he never again tested for the antibodies that supposedly indicated I would become hypothyroid. This follow-up statement was the closest I ever got to an admission that he had misdiagnosed me with Hashimoto's disease.

I can remember a technician or a doctor mentioning to me in the hospital that my thyroid levels were a little elevated, but that they thought they would probably normalize now that my sugars would be under better control. My entire system was out of whack when I was in the hospital — just about nothing was in the correct range.

The hospital was right and my endocrinologist was wrong: My thyroid levels have never strayed out of the normal range, and it has been almost six years since my endocrinologist told me I had Hashimoto's disease. When I consider how close I came to taking yet another drug that I didn't need, it makes me shudder. Who knows how long it would have taken me to figure it out and get off of it?


Irreverent Freelancer said...

It's not even the fact that you would have been on a drug you didn't need. It's the fact that being on it would have eventually (and probably very quickly) made you HYPERthyroid, which would have been the last thing you needed if you were already underweight. Sometimes the sheer incompetency of doctors amazes me.

Katharine Swan said...

Yeah, I know. And even then it probably would have taken him a while to figure it out!