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Diagnostic issues with cellulitis


More than 2.3 million individuals per year visit emergency rooms in Oregon and across the U.S. because of potential cases of cellulitis, a potentially serious bacteria infection. The costs for this care on a national level involve billions of dollars; however, some of the most intensive treatments may not be warranted. The misdiagnosis of cellulitis contributes to this matter.

Because of the serious nature of true cellulitis, aggressive treatment is common. Failure to diagnose this condition could have deadly results. However, studies have shown that the diagnosis of cellulitis is typically accomplished by general practitioners based on visual and physical symptoms. Blood and skin tests such as cultures are important for more accurately identifying the presence or absence of a given bacteria. Unfortunately, there are some skin conditions that mimic the appearance of cellulitis. This means that a patient could receive aggressive treatment for the wrong medical issue.

Dermatologists can contribute significantly in clinical evaluations of possible cellulitis patients because they have the skills needed to discern between this and pseudocellulitis. Discerning between conditions could help to curb the overuse of powerful antibiotics and their serious side effects. Additionally, better diagnostic strategies could preserve resources for both medical facilities and patients.

The incorrect diagnosis of a disease can have varying implications for a patient. In some cases, the outcome might be as simple as a bit of inconvenience for extra testing. In other cases, there could be significant difficulties because of a disease being allowed to advance without treatment. Medical malpractice could be an issue in a case that involves a patient suffering damages based on the negligence of a health care provider.