Diagnosed With Cellulitis? It Might Be a Costly Mistake

Diagnosed With Cellulitis? It Might Be a Costly Mistake

Diagnosed With Cellulitis in Nashville? It Might Be a Costly Mistake

Cellulitis: you may have heard this term floated around as of late, and that is largely due to the very thing we are going to discuss today - its misdiagnosis. As a refresher, cellulitis is a potentially serious bacterial skin infection that appears as a red, swollen area of skin and is tender to touch. If left untreated, it can become life-threatening.

The issue at hand is that many patients have been streaming into hospitals and dermatology practices, worried that they cellulitis. And according a study that examined the diagnosis of cellulitis from June 2010 to December 2012, the wrong diagnosis was given to 30% of the patients. That is not a small number by any means! What’s more, prior studies have also shown remarkably similar rates.

As a dermatologist in Nashville, I know this has been an issue for the last decade. Now, however, I have multiple studies that prove this behavior. Personally, I am not quick to assume my patients in Nashville exhibiting symptoms have cellulitis. If your skin does get inflamed at all, it is going to turn red and warm around that area. Just because the area is red though, it does not mean it’s infected.

Instead, what I do is the following:

  1. Take a marker and draw around the area that is red.

  2. See the patient back in 24 hours.

  3. If the area has expanded, we may have concern for cellulitis. If a patient sees this growth happening quickly overnight (2 or 3 inches), they should go to the emergency room immediately.

  4. If the area has not expanded, it should still be monitored - but it does not necessarily mean that the patient has cellulitis.

Recently, we had a patient in Nashville whom we did surgery on. The patient was concerned that there was redness around the area of the surgery, and we explained that it was caused by inflammation that occurs with healing. In the end, the patient went to an emergency room in Nashville and was diagnosed with cellulitis. The result? He reacted negatively to the antibiotics, and it ended up being a huge, costly ordeal for him. That is the impact of misdiagnosing cellulitis.

That’s why despite the fact that many patients in Nashville come in wanting me to diagnose their symptoms as cellulitis, I don’t throw around that diagnosis easily. As the example above shows, the experience patients have to endure after as a result of misdiagnosis is truly not worth a harried and ill-informed diagnosis!

If you are concerned about cellulitis or would like to see a dermatologist, visit us at Skin Solutions Dermatology in Nashville, Franklin, Columbia, Smyrna, Hendersonville or Pulaski to chat with our amazing team of dermatologists! Take advantage of our online booking system and book an appointment today.

Source: JAMA Dermatology

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Dr Pena

About The Author

Dr. Pena is a Board-Certified Medical Dermatologist, Mohs skin cancer surgeon, and cosmetic dermatologist. Her mission is to educate the diverse patient populations she serves, and their communities, on the importance of skin care in decreasing the risk of skin cancer and minimizing the early signs of aging. She founded Skin Solutions Dermatology with numerous clinics in Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding Middle Tennessee.

Dr. Julia Pena, MD