The Law Offices of John Phebus

Researchers say cellulitis misdiagnosis is common

Many Arizona hospitalizations are triggered by a diagnosis of cellulitis. The bacterial skin infection occurs when a person has a wound, cut or skin irritation that becomes infected by streptococcus or staphylococcus. One of the most dangerous forms of cellulitis is a methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infection. MRSA infections are typically contracted in hospital settings.

While cellulitis and MRSA cellulitis pose serious health risks, so do misdiagnoses of these conditions. A study has found that the misdiagnosis of cellulitis is very common, and it leads to millions of dollars in wasted health care funds each year. Unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics may also lead to avoidable medical complications for misdiagnosed patients. One of the study authors said that dermatologists are better than general physicians at differentiating cellulitis from the various conditions that mimic cellulitis symptoms. However, dermatologists are not available to assist every cellulitis diagnosis.

Researchers from several U.S. hospitals including Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston analyzed the medical records of 259 patients who were diagnosed with cellulitis in the emergency room of a large city hospital. According to their published study, the researchers concluded that 30.5 percent of the patients were incorrectly diagnosed with cellulitis. Among the misdiagnosed patients, 84.6 percent were hospitalized unnecessarily and 92.3 percent were prescribed antibiotics that they did not need.

A misdiagnosis of cellulitis can result in patients being harmed, as in some cases the disease that is actually present worsens. Patients who have been adversely affected in such a manner might want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to learn what legal recourse they may have.

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