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CDC Suggests an Increase in Lyme Disease, Misdiagnosis to Blame

In the last two years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has hypothesized that the spring and summer of 2017 will be the worst season for ticks, and by extension, Lyme disease that has been seen in recent years. As reported in 2015, Lyme disease has been diagnosed in more than 260 countries, with 95% of these cases identified taking place not only in the United States, but primarily in 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In 2015, there was an estimated 28,450 cases in these states of Lyme disease. However, these estimates are considered conservative, with the CDC proffering that this number could realistically be 10 times more than estimated due to the misdiagnosis of Lyme disease.

The Ease by Which Lyme Disease May be Misdiagnosed by Medical Professionals

Lyme disease can be easily misdiagnosed because the early symptoms are similar to other more common diseases such as the common cold or the flu. Usually the early symptoms include fatigue, joint swelling, fever, muscle pain, among others. Traditionally, Lyme disease must be confirmed with a special blood test that most doctors do not order.

CDC Hypothesizes that 2017 Will be Worst Tick Year Yet

The reason the CDC believes 2017 will be the worst year yet for Lyme disease is due to the fact that in two years ago, back in 2015, there was a significant abundance of acorns in the northeast of the United States, which led to a significant increase in the number of white-footed mice in 2016. White-footed mice are the preferred host of ticks, and the mice are the carriers of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Because ticks have a two-year life cycle, the surge in Lyme disease is seeing its zenith in 2017.

How Lyme Disease Infects and Impacts Humans

For Lyme disease to be transferred to a human, the tick must be attached for at least 36 to 48 hours. The main concern surrounding Lyme disease is the impact that the disease can have on the human body if the early symptoms are misdiagnosed as some common form of the flu, and the disease is permitted to progress. Untreated in the early stages with antibiotics, the person may be left with significant heart and nervous systems failures. Additionally, the long term effects can include serious headaches, memory loss, chronic stomach issues, speech impairment, and a stiffness of joints.

The Controversy and Misdiagnosis Issues of Lyme Disease

At the heart of the Lyme disease epidemic is the controversy and significant difficulty in diagnosing and later treating Lyme disease patients. This is because Lyme disease can present itself in patients differently without a clear standard of care or treatment plan. Lyme disease rashes, which can help indicate that a person has been infected, may be hidden in unseen areas like on one’s head or in other body locations that one cannot see unless he or she is looking with purpose. What complicates the issue is not only that Lyme disease mimics other common diseases, but there are an estimated 10 different strains of Lyme which can make a treatment plan even more ineffectual, and even create false negatives in the special blood tests discussed above.

Maryland and New York have even gone the extra mile by including legislation that asserts that just because a patient receives a negative result for a Lyme disease test does not necessarily mean that the patient is in fact free and clear of Lyme disease.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

It is critical that Lyme disease is diagnosed in the early stages so that antibiotics may be administered. When a medical professional misdiagnoses your Lyme disease, you may suffer heart and nervous system failures for years if not decades. If your medical professional misdiagnosed your Lyme disease, 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.

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Maryland Adds Reporting/Notification Requirements to Elder Abuse Law

In the United States, there areroughly 1 to 2 million reports of elder and vulnerable adult abuse made annually. This number is acknowledged to be relatively conservative as many of the cases of abuse are generally not reported. It has been estimated that only one in every 14 cases of elder and vulnerable adult abuse is ultimately reported.

Maryland and Elder Abuse Laws

Due to the significant number of our elderly who have been abused, in particular while residing in residential elder and assisted living adult homes, Maryland has undergone a push to include greater protections for these populations in the law. In a recent bill approved by the governor in April 2017, Maryland has taken steps to protect the elder and vulnerable adult population from all types of abuse, including physical abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

The April 2017 Reporting/Notification Requirements for Elder Abuse

The most recent 2017 law looks to add additional reporting requirements to the considerable requirement currently being implemented. The previous version of the law provided that any individual who is a health practitioner, police officer, or human service worker who interacts, attends to, treats,or examines a vulnerable adult must report any suspected abuse, neglect/ self-neglect, or exploitation. Thelaw requires that a report must not only be filed with the appropriate law enforcement agency but also must be filed with the Office of Health Care Quality of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of Maryland, which will then inform the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, who is the advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted living facilities and adult care centers. However, the new bill alters the requirement that the Ombudsman is not permitted to release the identity of the resident or complainant pursuant to confidentiality and disclosure laws.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is defined as any intentional or neglectful actions taken by a caregiver or other trusted individual related to the elderly adult that leads to, or may lead to, harm of the vulnerable individual.

The types of abuse can be the following:

  • Physical abuse, including hitting and punching;
  • Financial abuse/financial exploitation, which includes theft of property, scams, predatory lending, and otherwise accessing the funds of a vulnerable elderly adult;
  • Sexual abuse, where the vulnerable adult does not or is unable to give consent to sexual contact of any kind;
  • Psychological abuse, referring to any emotional pain suffered resulting from threats, harassment, intimidation, verbal attacks; and
  • Neglect/self-neglect, which is the failing to satisfy the needs of the vulnerable older adult who is under the individual’s care, such as food, water, shelter, personal hygiene, clothing, etc.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse?

To determine whether an elder or vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited, it is important to identify the red flags indicating such abuse. These are the following:

  • For physical abuse: any unexplained injuries, wounds, bruises, cuts, burns, welts, or undernourishment.
  • For financial abuse or exploitation: bank account activity is unusual, there is a change in spending habits, there are unpaid bills or a transfer in deeds or property.
  • For psychological abuse: any changes in behavior, withdrawal from enjoyed activities, depression, anger, fear, confusion, helplessness, or shame.
  • For neglect/self-neglect: a lack of adequate necessities, such as clean water, adequate food, a change in personal hygiene, and a lack of adequate amenities, among others.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If your loved one was abused under the care of a caregiver, medical professional, or while staying at an assisted living facility or long-term care residential center, 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.

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