Failure to Diagnose Lyme Disease

According to Lyme Disease UK, Lyme Disease is the most common infectious tick-borne disease to affect humans in the Northern Hemisphere.   Ticks are especially prevalent in the Spring and Summer months and are usually found in woodland and heath or open countryside areas but they have also been found in urban parks and gardens. Infection from Lyme Disease can occur at any time of the year.  Fortunately, it is believed that only a small proportion of ticks carry the disease but more and more cases are being reported each year.

Lyme Disease is often mis-diagnosed because the symptoms can be similar to other conditions and there has been a rise in reported cases which have been missed by the GP.  This is a serious condition, and even when identified correctly and treated, patients are often still ill from the disease 6-12 months later.  Part of the problem may also be that GPs are often not prescribing the full recommended treatment. There are currently a number of reviews taking place into Lyme Disease and NICE (National Institute for Care and Excellence) are currently updating their guidelines into recommended treatment, which are expected to be published in April 2018.

Often the first indicator of the disease is a distinctive rash with a “bulls-eye” like appearance.   The rash can develop in several areas on the body.  Unfortunately, the rash may be mis-diagnosed as ringworm, cellulitis or an allergic reaction, particularly if the patient is unaware that they have been bitten by a tick.   It is important to let your GP know if you have spent time in areas where ticks are likely to live.    The rash is not always present and it has been estimated that one in three people with Lyme Disease do not present with a rash.   Other early symptoms include fatigue, muscle or joint pain, headaches, fevers or chills and neck stiffness.

If Lyme Disease is not treated early enough, or at all, more serious symptoms can develop which may not present themselves for several weeks, months or even years after the initial infection.   Patients can be left with a chronic, debilitating and disabling condition which affects their ability to work, and has been known to result in death.   Later symptoms include:-

  • Pain and swelling in the joint
  • Problems affecting the nervous system, including numbness and pain in the limbs, facial paralysis, memory problems and difficulty concentrating

  • Heart problems leading to myocarditis, pericarditis, heart block or heart failure

  • Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord otherwise known as meningitis

Typical treatment is with antibiotics with the length of treatment depending on the stage of your condition.  However, ongoing symptoms once antibiotics have ended may require further treatment.    The earlier the condition is diagnosed the better, but whilst research is being conducted into the disease the fact remains that if you have Lyme Disease the chances of you being mis-diagnosed with another condition is extremely high.

If you believe that you have suffered from a mis-diagnosis of Lyme Disease or a delay in diagnosis, our expert Team here at Metcalfes can help.  We have specialists who can help get you the care and rehabilitation you need as well as compensation for the injury you have suffered.

We deal with all areas of medical negligence. If you think that you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical negligence, we may be able to help. Please contact us on 0117 239 8012.  Alternatively, you can email us by using our online contact form and we will be happy to discuss your potential claim with you.

Further reading:

www.lymediseaseuk.com

www.nhs.uk/conditions/Lyme-disease

Website content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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