Maine Medical Malpractice From Misdiagnosis of Lyme Disease

Data released from the Maine Medical Research Center indicates Lyme disease in Maine may be dropping off a bit due to hot, dry weather over the summer. However, this comes, as our Portland medical malpractice attorneys know, after a record-breaking 1,852 cases for the year in 2017. So far this year, 1,069 cases were reported, according to health officials.

Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease remains a cause of substantial consequence. Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks, can be cured if treated very aggressively, particularly with early intervention. The hot, dry summers have resulted in lower numbers of ticks this year, which is good news. Unfortunately, people who are misdiagnosed for years suffer extensive health problems – up to and including death. Misdiagnosis of Lyme disease or delayed diagnosis denies a person critical medical intervention necessary to effectively fight the disease.

Misdiagnosis, or an overlooked diagnosis in general, is the most common type of medical malpractice in Maine. It’s important to point out that failure to diagnosis may not in and of itself be the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is when this failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis results in delayed treatment, improper medical care or no treatment at all – something that worsens a patient’s medical condition and prognosis – that can make such action (or inaction) potentially worth pursuing a Maine medical malpractice lawsuit.

Portland personal injury lawyers also are aware of numerous cases where people had symptoms synonymous with Lyme disease but were actually suffering from something else – and they too suffered significant adverse health impacts from the delay in proper diagnosis. Given the prevalence of Lyme disease in Maine – particularly compared to other states – a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of Lyme disease is something that may be considered outside the accepted standard of care, which is the measure by which we determine whether a medical error is “unreasonable.”

The majority of Maine Lyme disease diagnoses are made in May through October, but that doesn’t mean physicians shouldn’t be on the lookout the possibility a new or existing patient has been dealing with misdiagnosed Lyme disease for months or years. Lyme disease is an especially tricky condition (which can make legal claims for malpractice complicated) that is characterized by flu-like conditions, nausea, swollen glands, neurological problems, joint pain and other issues.

News Center Maine, an NBC affiliate, reported numerous cases of people who are misdiagnosed with Lyme disease in Maine, living for years with debilitating symptoms and not being appropriately treated. One woman reported she was diagnosed with MLS and later ALS – yet none of the treatments she endured for two years and under 23 doctors were accurate. Others lived through years of anxiety, depression, migraines and pain. It turned out to have been a tick bite when she was 13. She was 30 when she was diagnosed.

Bear in mind the test to diagnose the Lyme disease bacteria can fail up to 36 percent of the time. It’s imperative that patients keep pushing for answers – but also that doctors pay careful attention to the symptoms, given the commonness of the condition in Maine. Numerous successful medical malpractice lawsuits for Lyme disease have been filed over the years (as this is not a new phenomenon). Juries in New England have awarded multi-million dollar damages in misdiagnosed Lyme disease medical malpractice claims.

If you have Lyme disease that has been misdiagnosed, contact our experienced Portland medical malpractice attorneys for information on filing a claim.

If you are the victim of Portland medical malpractice, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Hot, dry summers might be cutting into Maine Lyme cases, Nov. 14, 2018, Associated Press

More Blog Entries:

Maine Medical Negligence Not Proven After Discharged Patient Dies in House Fire, Oct. 17, 2018, Portland Maine Medical Malpractice Attorney Blog