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Kate Stone

Posted 8 June 2018
by Kate Stone

The Devastating Impact of Lyme Disease When Misdiagnosed and Left Untreated

Person in a hospital bed.

The devastating impact of Lyme disease when misdiagnosed is highlighted in the recent story in the press of Rachel Foulkes-Davies, a 43-year-old mother of three from Denbighshire.

Lyme disease is an infectious bacterial disease transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected tick. It requires a clinical diagnosis. Early symptoms may include a headache, fatigue, fever, facial palsy and a skin rash. It may, however, spread to affect the entire body including eyes, joints, heart and brain. If inadequately treated or treated late it may be difficult to cure.

Rachel Foulkes-Davies said that she realised that she had been bitten in 2015 when she noticed a small red mark on her neck which later became swollen and turned white. Four days later she started to lose movement in the left of her face.

She attended Deeside NHS hospital where she was diagnosed as suffering from Bell’s palsy and sent home with an eye patch.

Her symptoms then worsened. She describes being unable to talk for two years and having to live on a diet of liquid food through straws.

The diagnosis of Lyme disease was not made until after she had paid privately for a test. Unfortunately, by that time, it was too late for treatment to be effective and she has now had to give up work and is left with ongoing symptoms of chronic fatigue, blurred vision and brain fog.

Lyme Disease Action offer practical advice as to how to avoid being bitten by ticks in the first place including: –

  • vigilance
  • habitat management
  • use of repellents containing DEET

They also recommend checking for bites and for ticks brought in on clothing.

In terms of diagnosis and treatment, there has been increased awareness of the condition over the last few years both amongst the public and health professionals.

NICE guidelines were published earlier this year setting standards for diagnosing and managing the disease in order to ensure that people have prompt and consistent diagnosis and treatment to include antibiotics and regular clinical review and reassessment.

Thankfully prompt and appropriate treatment increases the chance of a complete recovery and reduces the risk of further symptoms.

If you require any advice regarding any failures to diagnose or treat Lyme disease then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors.


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About the author

Kate Stone

Kate Stone


Solicitor in the medical negligence team