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Study finds many cases of cellulitis misdiagnosed

On Behalf of | Nov 26, 2016 | Medical Malpractice

According to a study published in JAMA Dermatology, the bacterial skin infection cellulitis is widely misdiagnosed. People in Pennsylvania and throughout the country who are diagnosed with cellulitis may actually have a condition known as pseudocellulitis that is not treatable with antibiotics.

The study, which involved researchers from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital examined the records of 259 patients diagnosed with cellulitis at a hospital over a period of about 30 months. It found that 79 patients were misdiagnosed, and more than 50 of those misdiagnosed patients were admitted to the hospital. Almost 50 patients received unnecessary antibiotics, and 44 hospitalized patients did not need to be admitted. The study estimated that around 50,000 to 130,000 patients are unnecessarily hospitalized yearly and around 44,000 patients are given antibiotics they do not need.

Other reports have indicated that antibiotics are overprescribed throughout the country, and a new plan is calling for unnecessary antibiotic prescription to be cut in half by 2020. Antibiotics can cause serious side effects, and almost 33 percent of patients in the study who did not have cellulitis suffered from them. Anaphylaxis and antibiotic drug toxic effects are among the complications that may occur.

As this study illustrates, a misdiagnosis may carry serious consequences for a patient. A person who files a lawsuit for medical misdiagnosis must demonstrate that the medical care they received was not at the level that would be provided by a competent medical professional and that it harmed them. In other words, the legal system recognizes that there is a difference in an error made despite a doctor using their best professional judgment and a misdiagnosis that happens because of negligence. A lawyer may be able to help a victim seek compensation, which may help a patient pay for expenses due to the error.