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Misdiagnosis of illness may result in long-term health issues

Pennsylvania residents may find it interesting to learn that according to a nationwide survey that was recently published, patients who contract Lyme disease have an abnormally high probability of being misdiagnosed. According to the study, a majority of patients who contracted Lyme disease were not diagnosed correctly by their doctor. What is cause for concern was the length of time that transpired between contracting the illness and having it correctly diagnosed and treated. In about 61 percent of the cases in the study, it took more than two years for their health provider to accurately identify the illness.

What was particularly eye-opening was the fact that in nearly half of all cases, physicians delayed or did not administer diagnostic Lyme tests to their patients. Though the disease can occur in any U.S. state, this is particularly concerning for Pennsylvania residents because according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control, our state had nearly 5,000 cases of confirmed Lyme disease in 2013 alone, which was the highest in the U.S.

Being misdiagnosed leads to delayed treatment, unnecessary treatment for conditions that the patient does not have, and further progression of the disease, which can be debilitating. Consequently, according to the survey, half of the patients suffered with the disease for well over ten years and nearly three quarters of the sample size reported that their overall health was poor in general. Furthermore, those who were misdiagnosed reported quitting their jobs or reducing their work hours because of the debilitating health problems that the disease caused.

Proper diagnosis and treatment of any disease early on can prevent patients from suffering debilitating chronic effects in the long term. For those individuals who have been misdiagnosed and unnecessarily have had their treatment delayed, consulting with a medical malpractice attorney may be helpful.

Source: Nurse.com, "Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease problematic," July 1, 2015

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