Addressing Legal Risks for Lyme-Literate Medical Providers (CLM)

Addressing Legal Risks for Lyme-Literate Medical Providers

  Thursday, December 28th, 2023 Source: CLM

A recent survey of 155 Lyme-literate medical providers revealed that 39% faced regulatory scrutiny from medical boards, insurers, or hospital-based inquiries, underscoring the challenges in treating Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Lyme disease, a rapidly growing vector-borne disease in the U.S., presents complex medical conditions that lack a unified consensus on diagnosis and treatment. This uncertainty often leaves Lyme-literate providers, who adopt innovative treatment methods, vulnerable to investigations.

Lyme disease can have persistent symptoms despite standard treatments, leading to divergent treatment guidelines. The IDSA guidelines, widely considered the standard of care, advise against long-term treatment, conflicting with the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society’s recommendations. This divergence has led to medical board proceedings against providers treating beyond the IDSA’s guidelines.

The report emphasizes the importance of recordkeeping and risk management for providers treating Lyme disease. Accurate documentation of patient history, symptoms, and treatment is crucial due to the variability in treatment responses and complex regimens required. Providers should stay informed about the latest research, ensure thorough documentation, and practice informed consent and shared decision-making with patients. Collaboration with other medical professionals, continual monitoring and follow-up, and thorough documentation of treatment decisions are also key.

Legal counsel is recommended in case of regulatory investigations. Providers should request complete patient files and ensure full documentation during the investigation process. Maintaining professional liability insurance that covers medical board proceedings is also advised.

State legislatures have begun to pass laws offering protection to Lyme-literate providers, but these are limited to a few states. As Lyme disease continues to be a contentious area in medicine, it’s imperative for providers to navigate these complexities with a focus on patient care and legal compliance.

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