A recent study has confirmed that many doctors and hospitals have been
misdiagnosing cellulitis, a bacterial skin condition that occurs as a
result of an infection of the skin and the deep tissue underlying the
skin. When you have been injured, bruised, burned, wounded, or received
a surgical cut, bacteria can enter your body through those injury sites.
Generally, a victim suffering from
cellulitis has symptoms such as swollen glands and/or lymph nodes, a rash where the
skin is very red, tender, and painful, and fever and chills.
Results of the Study
According to the
new study, about one-third of patients who come to the hospital to receive treatment
for cellulitis do not actually have the infection, which can lead to hospitalizations
and unnecessary administration of antibiotics. The study reviewed the
patient files of more than 259 people, over a 30-month term, who complained
symptoms associated with lower extremity cellulitis. However, 79 of the
259 cases did not actually have cellulitis and 92% of the 79 were unnecessarily
administered antibiotics, and 85% were unnecessarily hospitalized. Those
who were hospitalized stayed on average for roughly 5 days and at least
25% stayed for longer than a week.
Unnecessary Hospitalizations and Administrations of Antibiotics
According to the study, on a larger scale, the misdiagnosis of cellulitis
has led to an estimated
50,000 to 130,000 unnecessary hospitalizations, with health care spending between $195 million and $515 million, not
including the associated cost of administering unnecessary antibiotics
and other complications associated with the provision of treatment for
the wrong infection.
The actual cause for these non-cellulitis cases? Pseudocellulitis. Pseudocellulitis
behaves almost in the exact same way as cellulitis and can be extremely
difficult to diagnose.
Recommendation to Decrease Number of Misdiagnoses: Consult a Dermatologist
The recommendation to help decrease the number of patients who are misdiagnosed
as having cellulitis is to consult a dermatologist. A
dermatologist has more focused training than a general physician. A dermatologist would
be more likely to evaluate the symptoms that present in the patient, exclude
other possible dermatoses, and determine any additional tests that may
be necessary to diagnose the patient, more than a non-dermatologist with
little to no focused experience on skin infections.
Where a medical professional is able to completely diagnose a skin infection
as cellulitis, the appropriate inpatient treatment can be administered,
the patient can be instructed on out-patient treatment, and any additional
complications that are associated with cellulitis are less likely to occur,
or are caught and treated quickly.
Avoiding Misdiagnoses Can Lead to Decrease in a Person’s Antibiotic
Additionally, there is a concern for the unnecessary use of antibiotics
which may lead to antibiotic resistance. It is routine in the diagnosis
for cellulitis to administer antibiotics; about 60% of patients require
a second round (or more) of antibiotics. This type of unnecessary exposure
to antibiotics could lead to the misdiagnosed person to not be able to
react in the same way in the future to antibiotics if they befall another
illness that requires these types of drugs to get better.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
A misdiagnosis can lead to longer hospitalizations and more health care
spending due to a misuse of hospital resources. If you or a loved one
has been injured as a result of a medical misdiagnosis, it is important
to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Please call the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.