Pennsylvania is expected to lead the nation in Lyme disease cases again in 2017, and black-legged ticks can now be found in every county in the state. However, a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the misdiagnosis of Lyme disease is becoming more common. According to the CDC, doctors around the country often diagnose Lyme disease when patients present ambiguous symptoms such as localized pain and excessive fatigue. In true Lyme disease cases, typical symptoms include a bullseye-shaped skin rash, fever and frequent headaches.
The problem is a serious one because patients misdiagnosed with Lyme disease are often subjected to courses of antibiotic treatments that can last for months or even years. Prolonged exposure to intravenous antibiotics can cause serious harm, and the CDC report on Lyme disease misdiagnosis reveals that some patients treated in this way have died after going into septic shock.
Another consequence of misdiagnosis is that a patient’s true underlying condition goes untreated. Some frustrated patients turn to alternative medicine when the treatments prescribed by their doctors fail to produce results, and the CDC report is highly critical of unorthodox approaches such as electromagnetic frequency treatments, stem cell transplants and hydrogen peroxide infusions. True cases of Lyme disease are generally treated with courses of antibiotics lasting between two and four weeks.
The consequences of a misdiagnosis can be catastrophic, and patients who have been misdiagnosed may pursue civil remedies when the evidence suggests that their doctors acted negligently. When pursuing this kind of medical error lawsuit, experienced attorneys could consult with specialists to find out if doctors ordered the appropriate tests for their clients and whether or not they interpreted the results correctly.
Source: Fox 43, “Pennsylvania to lead in Lyme disease cases in 2017”, Mark Roper, April 17, 2017