(CNN) – When seven-year-old Bailey Sheehan arrived at a partially paralyzed hospital in Oregon, a doctor said the girl counterfeited her symptoms to arouse her parents' attention because she was jealous of her new baby -Sister.
But this doctor had proved wrong when an MRI showed that the girl had acute flaccid myelitis or AFM, a polio-like disease that had affected hundreds of children since 2014.
[RELATED: Arizona has had at least eight cases of mysterious, polio-like disease] ]
Erin Olivera, mother of a child with AFM and founder of a private Facebook page for parents of 400 children with the disease, says Bailey's experience is barely unique. She estimates that on the basis of parental posts, one in ten children was told that the paralysis was in their heads when they first sought medical help.
Experts involved in the art and science of diagnosis say the problem continues with this rare disease. They say doctors generally jump too often in a mysterious illness to diagnose a psychiatric problem.
"Mental disorders become the basic attitude to deal with medical insecurity," said former Chairman Dr. Ing. Allen Frances Psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine. "It is widespread and dangerous."
Dr. Mark Graber, emeritus president of the Society for the Improvement of Diagnosis in Medicine, added, "It's a tendency doctors have when they can not find a physical cause."
"It's bad. That's really bad.
Bailey was a healthy little girl until October 28, 201
A rehabilitation expert in According to a children's hospital, Bailey was not really paralyzed, according to her mother Mikell Sheehan.
The doctor said the paralysis had been an emotional reaction to her sister's birth four months ago, when Bailey was diagnosed as having a mental disorder.  Sheehan told the doctor.
"I said," You've been with my child for 15 minutes, and you think it's psychologically out of my face, "she recalled.
Sheehan said, the doctor hinted that she was unstable.
"He said, you know," Mothers with new babies do not get enough sleep & # 39; "She said
Bailey's normal pediatrician, who had known the girl since birth, did not agree with the diagnosis and urged further investigation. Then the MRI showed that she had AFM.
Armed with the right diagnosis, Bailey received a treatment AFM, including extensive physiotherapy, re-runs four years later.
"We were lucky that their pediatrician was such an advocate for us, but I do not know if everyone is lucky," Sheehan said.
Sheehan says she understands why doctors did not immediately think of AFM for her daughter because the disease was not known four years ago, but there are several other causes of paralysis in children and she wonders why her Daughter did not get a full test round for this.
Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, a neurologist who has seen cases of AFM across the country, said that even this year, as AFM made national headlines, his parents have told him that doctors have overlooked the disease, and suspected that their children may have theirs Paralysis counterfeited.
"The stories I can tell are crazy and sad," said Greenberg, a professor of neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Four years later, Sheehan says, she still feels the scars of her daughter's misdiagnosis.
"You feel hurt and wrongfully charged," she said.
The Dangers of False Security
Although there is no data that indicates how often doctors diagnose physical conditions as psychiatric experts In the field of diagnosis, they say they see it too often.
It usually begins when a patient has a startling illness and the doctors feel the need to make a diagnosis.
"Doctors feel uncomfortable when they do not have a diagnosis," said Frances.
The consequences can be "catastrophic," he said, because a misdiagnosis can lead to a patient being treated for an illness he does not have and to miss treatment for his illness.
"False certainty is far more dangerous than uncertainty," he said.
The American Medical Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians rejected requests for comment.
New York Stony Brook University said part of the problem is that medical students are taught that physical symptoms sometimes have a psychological basis. That's true, he said, but doctors need to thoroughly test for physical problems before they start psychiatric diagnosis.
"Physicians are required to do a thorough work-up before turning to a psychological explanation," he said. "If a doctor can not find a cause, this is a good opportunity to seek a second opinion or to consult a specialist."
Frances added that it was OK if a doctor simply said, "I do not know." 19659002] "Doctors need to learn to accept medical insecurity," he said.