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Reducing the number of cellulitis misdiagnoses

New York residents who have suffered from cellulitis probably know that the condition is hard to diagnose correctly. Many patients can be diagnosed with a similar condition called pseudocellulitis, so called because the symptoms (red, warm, swollen, tender skin) are almost exactly the same. This can be a critical mistake because cellulitis, being a bacterial infection, can spread to the blood vessels and cause a blood infection.

However, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital have published a new study suggesting that there is a way to reduce the number of misdiagnoses: early intervention on the part of dermatologists. Researchers set up 165 patients in the hospital’s emergency department observation unit for a consultation with a dermatologist. Previously, these patients had been diagnosed with presumptive cellulitis and given antibiotics. The dermatologists, however, found that one-third of the patients really had pseudocellulitis.

Out of those patients with pseudocellulitis, more than 82 percent were told by their dermatologist to stop taking the antibiotics. None of the patients exhibited worsened symptoms. Based on these findings, researchers estimate that early intervention could cut down on anywhere between 97,000 and 256,000 unnecessary hospitalization days across the country. Patients will save time and money while also avoiding complications from misdiagnosis. Yet facilities without 24/7 access to dermatologists may not benefit so quickly from the research results.

When misdiagnoses lead to a worsened medical condition and further expenses, victims will want to see if they can file a malpractice claim and be compensated for these expenses. The process may go much more smoothly with a lawyer, especially since the settlement may be a large one and the other side could use all sorts of tactics to deny payment. A lawyer may bring in medical experts or request an inquiry with the local medical board; he or she may then take on negotiations or litigate.

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