Have a Story to Tell? Had a medical error?

This blog is about patient safety, medical malpractice, staying healthy, and preventing future errors. Help & empower someone else, Teach a lesson, Bear witness, Build our community - Email us or call 781-444-5525.

Frustrated with a health problem?

Need an ally in your health crisis? Call 781-444-5525, or learn more.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Smart Bacteria: A Misdiagnosis Error

In 1992, Dirk Almstedt was bitten by a mouse, while in Germany. Shortly after, a tick bit his wife Sonja. But neither of the Almstedts showed symptoms of illness then.

Seven years ago, when they moved to Wickenburg, Arizona, Dirk built a small business, and they had children. Soon afterward, the couple started noticing symptoms of Lyme disease, but the symptoms went undiagnosed until June, when Sonja became so ill that they sought medical attention.

"Her pain started at June 22, and life went to hell after that. It’s destroyed her completely,”"said Dirk. A neurological institute diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis, but the treatments didn’t help. Dirk researched her symptoms on the Internet, and found symptoms of chronic Lyme disease. Both Dirk and Sonja, and their six-year old daughter, now have confirmed cases of Lyme disease. Sonja suffers from severe "cluster headaches" and body pain. Needing to care for his sick wife and child, and two younger children, Dirk has had to take time away from his business, and he makes only one-third of his earlier income.

Lyme disease is hard to diagnose for five reasons. Most doctors have little or no experience in diagnosing Lyme disease. The "smart" bacteria reacts with the victim’s unique DNA, so that no two infected people have the same set of symptoms. Less than half of victims have a distinctive "bulls-eye" rash. It is almost impossible to grow in a laboratory, and is extremely slow-growing. It can change forms.

Advice: Spray insect repellent on your ankles before walking in the woods. If you get sick with a disease that’s difficult to diagnose, research your symptoms.

Read another misdiagnosis story, or read Patti Jares’ source story.

No comments: