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New Study Shows Significant Number of Cellulitis Misdiagnoses

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 Resistance

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 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 Maryland medical malpractice lawyer. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.