Potentially one-third of patients admitted to hospitals in New York for cellulitis have been misdiagnosed. Instead of cellulitis, they could have pseudocellulitis, a condition that resembles the bacterial skin infection but inflames the skin for other reasons. People misdiagnosed with cellulitis could receive unnecessary antibiotic therapy.
A medical researcher at a large hospital identified the extent of misdiagnosis after having a dermatology team review the hospitalizations of people admitted with cellulitis. The researcher arranged for dermatologists to evaluate people diagnosed at the emergency room with cellulitis. Among the one-third of patients deemed to have pseudocellulitis instead, the dermatologists decided that 82.4 percent of them should stop taking antibiotics. They also recommended that the hospital discharge half of them.
Since early assessment by dermatologists appeared to limit unnecessary hospitalization and treatments, the researcher concluded that dermatologists could enable substantial cost savings. On a national scale, the savings could equal between $80 million and $210 million every year. The researcher acknowledged that many hospitals lacked dermatology staff in their emergency rooms and suggested that telemedicine could present a solution.
The law obligates medical providers to meet certain standards of care. When a delayed diagnosis causes a person to miss treatment opportunities or receive inappropriate care, questions about medical malpractice might arise. The person could ask an attorney to review the case and provide insights into the possibility that negligent medical care caused harm to the person. A lawyer might gather evidence for a lawsuit by consulting an independent physician. After preparing court filings, an attorney could open negotiations for a settlement to compensate the person for medical expenses and lost income. Legal advice could help a person evaluate any settlement offers that might be forthcoming. If a medical provider resists responsibility, a lawyer could take the case to trial.