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Dermatology consults could prevent cellulitis misdiagnoses

Sep 27, 2018 | Failure to Diagnose

Typically, cellulitis is diagnosed based on how the affected area looks and what the patient reports as symptoms. There are a number of other skin conditions that might have symptoms similar to those of cellulitis, so it is sometimes misdiagnosed. Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that causes skin inflammation. New York residents might be interested in the results of a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital that demonstrates early dermatologist consultation for patients who were thought to have cellulitis improved outcomes and prevented misdiagnoses.

In previous work the researchers had determined that one-third of patients in the hospital’s emergency department who were thought to have cellulitis in fact had pseudocellulitis. A dermatology team was brought in to consult and recommended that antibiotics be discontinued in 82.4 percent of the pseudocellulitis cases. The researchers estimate that dermatological consultations could prevent up to 91,000 cases of needless exposure to antibiotics and save up to $210 million in health care costs each year.

The widespread use of dermatological consultation could prevent between 97,000 and 256,000 days of hospitalization annually as well. Many hospitals do not have access to dermatology care all the time, so the ability of hospitals to implement these protocols may be limited. The researchers are developing tools for remote diagnosis, which they refer to as teledermatology. They hope their research will make misdiagnosis less likely in cellulitis cases.

Patients who suffer harm due to a misdiagnosis might be entitled to compensation for their ;. In order to prevail, it must be demonstrated that the error constituted a failure to exhibit the requisite standard of care. In order to do so, the patient’s attorney will obtain the opinions of one or more impartial medical experts.