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Delayed diagnosis allows Lyme disease to become chronic

Ticks in the fields and woods of Ohio could potentially spread Lyme disease, a condition that can disable people if treatment does not occur promptly. Unfortunately, a nationwide survey of 6,104 patients recently conducted by an advocacy group revealed that doctors often resisted testing for the tick-borne illness even when patients reported symptoms consistent with the disease.

Reluctance to test arose most often in regions where the disease was not considered endemic. However, people can pick up the disease in all 50 states. Among the survey respondents, 61 percent of them were not properly diagnosed for more than two years. A delayed identification of this disease can deprive patients of the benefits of timely treatment, which can spare patients of the long-term effects.

A misdiagnosis of the disease also contributes to delays in appropriate treatment because its symptoms can be similar to other conditions. Among survey respondents, 59 percent of them were misdiagnosed with mood disorders. Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia also accounted for many of the misdiagnoses. These incorrect medical conclusions led to people taking medications they did not need. The symptoms of Lyme disease can impede people's ability to earn income. According to the survey, more than 40 percent of the patients had reduced their hours at work or quit altogether.

A doctor might be held responsible when financial and physical hardship to a patient is due to the doctor's failure to test for a disease associated with the person's symptoms. A misdiagnosis could also be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit if it can be shown that the doctor failed to comply with the required standard of care. An attorney can assist an injured patient by reviewing the pertinent medical records and obtaining the opinions of experts in an attempt to demonstrate negligence.

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