‘The Great Mimicker’

A difficult-to-identify bacterial infection that kills 70 percent of its victims within 48 hours is spreading throughout the globe.

Once confined to Southeast Asia and Northern Australia, Melioidosis appears to be spreading to the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. In fact, according to a new study, the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei is currently present in 45 countries and is poised to spread to another 34 nations around the world. Microbiologists refer to Melioidosis as “the great mimicker,” because its symptoms, including fever, abscesses, and sepsis, are common in many, if not most, bacterial infections. As the disease spreads, these risks are magnified, because a B. pseudomallei infection is utterly unknown in many parts of the world. In laboratory tests, the hardy bacteria lived in water for 16 years and proved highly resistant to almost all known antibiotics.

There is some fear that B. pseudomallei may be employed by terrorists, but scientists doubt that the bacteria could be weaponized.

Misdiagnosis

12 million Americans are misdiagnosed every year, and about half of these episodes lead to severe injury. Researchers emphasized that diagnosis is sometimes more art than science, because so many conditions have similar symptoms, and that is where the system breaks down.

Misdiagnosis is especially common if the patient does not fit the profile of certain diseases. For example, doctors rarely diagnose lung cancer in nonsmokers and almost never diagnose breast cancer in men. Instead, their symptoms are dismissed as a more common condition for that gender or segment of the population.

Reasons for Misdiagnosis

The misdiagnosis epidemic did not just appear out of nowhere. There are a number of reasons that one in 20 patients are incorrectly diagnosed, including:

  • Rushed Appointments: In the quest to see more patients and make more money, the industry standard for appointment length is only 15 minutes. Making matters worse, doctors listen to their patients for an average of 23 seconds before redirecting or interrupting them.
  • Insufficient Testing: Some doctors hesitate to order a full round of diagnostic tests, because they are afraid that the insurance company will argue they were unnecessary and refuse to pay the bill.
  • Poorly Trained Staff: A doctor may rely on a tech or other staff member that either does not interpret the results correctly or does a poor job of communicating the results to the doctor.

None of these reasons is a defense to negligence. In fact, they create an increased duty for the doctors. If the road is wet, drivers have a duty to slow down. Likewise, doctors have a duty to manage their patient loads and take other appropriate steps to avoid misdiagnosis.

Victims in these cases are typically entitled to compensation for both their economic and noneconomic damages. Punitive damages are also appropriate, in many circumstances.

For prompt assistance in this area, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Fayetteville. You have a limited amount of time to act – call the Wade Law Firm today!

 

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