Originally published on The Mighty
There’s a saying in medicine that “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” It means when you’re trying to figure out a patient’s diagnosis, think of common illnesses first, rather than conditions that are more rare and theoretically less likely to be the diagnosis. It’s a theory that can work in guiding doctors to the correct diagnosis — but it’s far from foolproof. And when it fails, the results can be deadly, leaving people with chronic illnesses vulnerable to dangerous medical care.
The story of Rosie Umney, a 15-year-old with type 1 diabetes who died of diabetic ketoacidosis hours after a doctor diagnosed her with an ear infection, should serve as a cautionary tale to any medical professional looking out for “horses” but not “zebras.”
As reported by Kent Live on Wednesday, Umney began feeling sick on July 2, 2018. She went home early from school, and her mother and grandfather took her to an urgent care after she complained of abdominal pain, reflux and was hyperventilating. Umney’s mother and grandfather told the doctor, Sadaf Mangi, they had checked her blood glucose and the results were normal. Mangi diagnosed her with an ear infection and sent her home with a prescription for medication.