According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 300,000 Americans, including those living in Pennsylvania, contract Lyme disease each year. However, the tick-borne disease is notoriously hard to detect, meaning that many people can have it without knowing it.
Lyme disease can cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, fever, heart issues, nervous system problems and joint pain. However, in some cases, patients do not exhibit any symptoms. In other cases, the symptoms can mimic those of other conditions. This can lead doctors, who largely depend on physical exams, to misdiagnose the disease as something else. Another factor is that a Lyme disease diagnosis requires doctors to confirm the patient has been bitten by a tick. If the patient cannot recall being bitten, it can significantly delay the diagnosis.
For example, an Ohio TV station recently reported that a 10-year-old Cincinnati boy with Lyme disease was misdiagnosed for a year before doctors discovered he had the infection. For months, he was plagued with stomach pain and a sore throat, which kept him home from school. Doctors thought he had strep throat or mononucleosis. After tests ruled out those conditions, he was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease and treated with antibiotics. In another case, a nurse suffered headaches, joint pain, fever and fatigue for 15 years before being properly diagnosed with the disease.
Patients who suffer harm due to a Lyme disease misdiagnosis may seek relief in civil court. By filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible doctor, patients might receive a settlement that compensates them for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. Patients may learn more about their legal options be contacting a law firm that handles personal injury claims. An attorney may assess a patient's case and explain all legal remedies available.