Counteract COVID-19 Misdiagnosis in Pandemic Era

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Nadine Aurelie is a third-year preclinical medical student at Universitas Indonesia. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In order to bring forth peace and prosperity to all mankind and other earth residents, 17 goals are formulated to achieve stability, ensuring continuity of life in the future.

However, since COVID-19 pandemic has struck the world for this last 2 years, the progress of this ideal blueprint might be delayed, or worse, reversed. Life expectancy has been greatly reduced as most of the countries are not equipped with essential health services, including shortage of health workers and appropriate facilities.

This setback significantly affects the third point of Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs), halting the process of ensuring healthy lives at all human ages.1

One of the challenges presents in eliminating this plague is the blurred border of COVID-19 clinical manifestation. According to one systematic review study, the most frequent symptoms associated with COVID-19 consecutively are fever (81.2%), cough (58.5%), fatigue (38.5%), and dyspnea (26.1%).

Aside of those symptoms, there are many more nonspecific symptoms that affect other body systems other than respiratory systems. Not to mention, there are several people contracted with COVID-19 who show no sign at all, obliviously infecting other people in contact.2

Therefore, health workers need to act cautiously while apprehending cases. However, extreme cautions must not blur the judgment in establishing correct diagnosis. Especially in tropical countries where infectious diseases can exhibit similar symptoms with COVID-19, thorough considerations are crucial to eliminate other possible causes.3

Hasty and improper diagnosis might put the patients’ lives in danger with unnecessary medication and prolonged time diagnosis. Careful history assessment, physical examination, and proper tests along with geographical characteristics consideration can help health workers to evade misdiagnosis, thus reducing further harm and providing maximum benefits to patients.4

References

  1. Goals 3 [Internet]. New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; 2021 [cited 2021 Aug 22]. Available from: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal3
  2. Alimohamadi Y, Sepandi M, Taghdir M, Hosamirudsari H. Determine the most common clinical symptoms in COVID-19 patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Prev Med Hyg. 2020; 61(3): E304-12.
  3. Eshaghi H, Ziaee V, Khodabande M, Safavi M, Memar EHE. Clinical misdiagnosis of COVID-19 infection with confusing clinical course. Case Rep Infect Dis. 2021.
  4. Yousefzai R, Bhimaraj A. Misdiagnosis in the COVID-19 era: When zebras are everywhere, don’t forget the horses. JACC Case Rep. 2020; 2(10): 1614-9.

About the author

Nadine Aurelie is a third-year preclinical medical student at Universitas Indonesia. Born at Jakarta, September 27, 2000, she is currently residing at Tangerang, Banten, delving medical studies. Her decision to take medicine major stems from biology study. Biology has been her passion ever since she was still a little girl. The secrets unraveled each day fascinate her and urge her to explore deeper. The moment she was given the opportunity to apply the biology knowledge and to help people in need, her resolution gets firmer to become an excellent researcher and a great doctor that can be relied by patients.

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