Every week we receive many inquiries from people who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease who want to know if they have a possible medical malpractice claim for the failure of their primary care physicians or other health care providers to order timely and appropriate medical testing for Lyme disease that may have diagnosed their condition earlier, when treatment options may have been more effective and which could have avoided their suffering from the ongoing symptoms they believe are the result of “chronic” Lyme disease.
We suspect that the increasing number of inquiries we receive about Lyme disease misdiagnosis is a sign of an impending Lyme disease disaster in the United States. The stories of chronic debilitating conditions that these people believe are due to their misdiagnosed Lyme disease are frightening and should serve as a warning and wake-up call to everyone who may be potentially exposed to Lyme disease in the United States: we must be vigilant in taking precautions to avoid exposure to Lyme disease and we must insist that our medical providers test us for Lyme disease if our symptoms suggest such testing.
The Official U.S. Statistics Support Our Concern
The CDC reports that Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vectorborne illness in the United States (vectorborne illnesses are those caused by an infectious microbe that are transmitted to people by blood-sucking arthropods such as mosquitoes, mites, fleas, and ticks). In 2011, Lyme disease was the 6th most common nationally notifiable infectious disease in the United States, with 96% of the cases of Lyme disease reported in these 13 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
What Is Lyme Disease, What Causes Lyme Disease, What Are The Symptoms, And How Can I Avoid Getting Lyme Disease?
The CDC provides the following guidance with regard to these issues:
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.
Based on our conversations with Lyme disease sufferers who have contacted us, we have found that many were not properly diagnosed with Lyme disease until they visited a “Lyme disease literate” physician, and that prior medical providers never considered that they might have Lyme disease or tested them for Lyme disease. Many were misdiagnosed with other ailments and provided treatment for those ailments that did not properly treat their Lyme disease. Most had been suffering unnecessarily severe and chronic conditions that affected their daily lives for an extended period of time before they received the proper diagnosis.
It appears that the delay in proper treatment for Lyme disease has caused many of these people unnecessary mental anguish, physical suffering, and debilitating symptoms that are taking longer to resolve after appropriate medical treatment has begun (some have reported that their symptoms due to Lyme disease have not fully resolved). Most are frustrated that their true medical condition (Lyme disease) could have and should have been diagnosed and easily treated by their primary care providers much earlier.
While the strongest cases of medical malpractice involving the misdiagnosis of Lyme disease may be those cases where the Lyme disease testing came back positive for the disease but the results were either not communicated to the patient or the proper treatment not started promptly, there are other cases of Lyme disease misdiagnosis or late-diagnosis that may be due to medical malpractice.
If you believe that you or a family member’s Lyme disease was misdiagnosed or late-diagnosed by a medical provider and you suffered injuries or losses as a result, you should consult with a local medical malpractice attorney (Lyme disease attorney) to discuss your possible medical malpractice claim.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers (Lyme disease lawyers) in your state who may be willing to investigate your possible Lyme disease claim for you and bring a medical malpractice claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.