New York – Internal Medicine – Chronic Fatigue, Disturbed Sleep, Joint Pains, Nausea, Diarrhea, And An Abnormal MRI Diagnosed As Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

From 10/15/1998 to 3/7/2008, Physician A treated a 38-year-old female who presented with complaints of severe fatigue, disturbed sleep, irritability, joint pains, frequent sore throats, nausea, and diarrhea.  At her initial visit, the patient reported that 9 years earlier she had been told she had a borderline Lyme test and was treated with antibiotics.  In the past 5 years, she had frequent bouts of fatigue and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

In December 1998, the patient was seen by a neurologist who, based on an abnormal MRI, recommended a lumbar puncture but one was not done.  In June 1999, the patient had an abnormal brain SPECT.  In January 2002, the patient had her first and only physical examination at Physician A’s practice.  In January 2008, ten years after the initial MRI, the patient had a second MRI, which was again abnormal.  A neurologist performed a lumbar puncture.

The results of the lumbar puncture were negative for Lyme disease but revealed positive oligoclonal band proteins which are consistent with the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

The Board judged Physician A’s conduct to have fallen below the standard of care given failure to take an adequate history of present illness, failure to obtain prior medical records, failure to perform a physical examination, failure to construct a differential diagnosis, failure of prescribing medications without appropriate medical conditions, failure to perform a lumbar puncture, and failure to timely diagnose the patient’s multiple sclerosis.

The Board charged Physician A with professional incompetence and gross negligence.

State: New York

Date: April 2017

Specialty: Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Neurology

Symptom: Weakness/Fatigue, Nausea Or Vomiting, Joint Pain

Diagnosis: Neurological Disease, Autoimmune Disease

Medical Error: Diagnostic error

Significant Outcome: N/A

Case Rating: 2

Link to Original Case File: Download PDF

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