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Challenges in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease

Some diseases can be difficult for Pennsylvania physicians to diagnose. Even with positive serologic tests for antibodies connected with Lyme disease, for example, the diagnosis of the disease in a patient is not necessarily warranted. A positive test reflects a patient's exposure to Lyme disease but does not necessarily imply that the disease is currently active. A provider must consider other symptoms in diagnosing active Lyme disease. Questions might be asked about whether a patient has been exposed to ticks and whether they recall a rash consistent with this condition. In cases involving symptoms but no specific recollection of tick encounters or rashes, a physician might proceed with treatment in an effort to confirm whether or not the condition is present.

Infusion treatment for Lyme disease can be costly, and there are some risks inherent with the invasive nature of the treatments. One of the most serious risks is infection. A patient might need a long-term intravenous line, which could be exposed to infection at any time that it is used. This can occur in spite of meticulous preventive measures. Some experts suggest that infusion treatments for Lyme disease should be discontinued if they have not produced improvements after one month.

An individual suffering from symptoms that could indicate Lyme disease might be frustrated by a physician's failure to diagnose the disease. However, a misdiagnosis that leads to unnecessary infusion therapy could exhaust a patient's resources, especially if a provider continues these treatments indefinitely.

An error in diagnosis could result in a range of outcomes depending on the disease and its severity in a patient. For example, a physician's missing a diagnosis of an aggressive cancer could cause a patient to miss an important window for obtaining life-saving treatment. Patients who have been harmed in such a manner might find it helpful to discuss the facts of their case with a lawyer.

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