Principles of Laboratory Testing Most cases of late Lyme are not diagnosed right off the bat.

By Elizabeth Maloney, MD

P erhaps the most important diagnostic concept in Lyme disease is that Lyme is a clinical diagnosis, not a laboratory one. Yet this very concept seems to be one of the hardest for patients and physicians to truly grasp. While I don’t know why this is the case, here are my thoughts on the matter.

Several studies have shown that patients usually see multiple physicians before being diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Most cases of late Lyme are not diagnosed right off the bat. Several studies have shown that patients usually see multiple physicians before being diagnosed and delays in diagnosis are often greater than a year. Those delays, to put it bluntly, represent physician error. It is not surprising then, that patients might question a clinical diagnosis of Lyme without “proof” in the form of a test result. Busy physicians, with little experience in late Lyme disease, may find it difficult to reach a clinical diagnosis. Patients present in a myriad of ways and the variety defies clinical logic; how could a single infectious agent cause such divergent symptoms? Colleagues may quibble over which part of a history is most important or disagree with exam findings but it’s hard for them to argue with a lab result. Plus, it’s easier to take a two-minute history and order a blood test then it is to do a complete review of systems in a patient who has many, many symptoms. So physicians, too, want proof…… Join or login below to continue reading.

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5 Reader Comments

  1. I can’t afford to join but I need your information. I understand you need the funds but what about the people, I’m sure I’m not the only one, who cannot not afford but have a sense that I have Lyme. Please I need to read all I can on it. I’m 60 and have been suffering since I was 7. That’s a long time, decades!

  2. To Sheryl, The Lymedisease.org has articles from the main menu that describe the symptoms, how to treat and guidelines for the doctor. You dont need to join the organization to utilize these most important articles. The most important thing is to find a Lyme Doctor.

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