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Tick-borne disease could be deadly without quick diagnosis

Jun 26, 2017 | Failure to Diagnose

Despite its name, people in New York and all over the country are at risk of tick-borne illnesses like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Particularly widespread in the summer months when people camp, hike and engage in outdoor activities, they can be life-threatening for active individuals. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has been reported all over North and South America. The potentially fatal disease is caused by a bacterium, Rickettsia rickettsia. Physicians report that there has been a slow increase in cases of the disease over the years.

Some people with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are not diagnosed quickly. While the disease can be very dangerous, the symptoms are often non-specific and include fever, headache, rashes, nausea, vomiting, pain, lack of appetite and pink eye. Diagnostic tests for the disease will not return a positive result for at least seven days after exposure, but treatment is most effective if received in the first five days. Indeed, people can die of the disease in as few as eight days, so a delayed diagnosis could carry severe consequences.

The antibiotic doxycycline is highly effective in treating Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, allowing the vast majority of patients to achieve a full recovery. However, starting the treatment quickly is critical to success. Doctors must make a judgment call to begin treatment, including factors like a low platelet count, low sodium concentration or elevated liver enzyme levels.

If a doctor fails to diagnose Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever despite the presence of signs that indicate the illness, the consequences could be catastrophic. Anyone who has been seriously harmed by a disease that a doctor failed to diagnose in a timely fashion or who has lost a loved one through a misdiagnosis would be advised to contact a medical malpractice lawyer in order to see if they have any recourse.