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Vidyya, from the Sanskrit "vaidya," a practitioner who has come to understand the science of life.

Volume 1 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    22-November-2000      
Issue 223 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST    23-November-2000      

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Back To Vidyya The Medical Outer Limits:

Getting Disciplined For Treating Patients Too Well

How much is too much antibiotic when treating Lyme disease? Give too much and even though your patients get better and are happy with their treatment, you may still lose your license. Some truths are stranger than fiction, and in this age of managed care and insurance review boards the odd is becoming commonplace.

Do not adjust your computer screen you are about to enter the outer medical limits...

Enter Dr. Joseph Burrascano, a well-respected and published Lyme disease specialist. You are about to accompany him before the New York State Health Department where the Office of Professional Medical Conduct is currently reviewing negligence charges against Dr Burrascano for medicating some of his Lyme disease patients for several years on end.

The popular Dr. Burrascano is on one side of a raging debate. On one side of this twilight zone sits academia and the insurance companies, who claim that Lyme disease can be cured with just four weeks of antibiotics. Anything else is unwarranted and expensive. On the other side, physicians like Dr. Burrascano and patients say that there are rare intractable cases of the infection that require repeated courses of antibiotics. Some treatments have cost up to $20,000. In this odd place in which medicine has found itself mired, both sides have won huge research grants and have their clinical research published in popular medical journals.

Physicians beware. Doctors who have used antibiotics aggressively against Lyme disease in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Oregon have faced full scrutiny. Several have lost their licenses. The tale gets ugly. Some patients have been paid by insurance companies to testify against physicians who have done nothing more than try to treat people for Lyme disease in the way the physician honestly thought to be best.

Dr. Burrascano believes his prosecution is a political witch-hunt regarding the political differences of opinion about Lyme treatment. Burrascano has treated 7,000 Lyme disease patients, but stands accused of mistreating nine of them. These patients all side with their doctor and are amazed that their charts are in evidence against him. There is a rally in Dr. Burrascano's defense next week.

Television programs looking for new plot ideas should look no further than this story. It's odd, it's true. Ben Affleck should play the part of Dr. Burrascano and that's our final answer.


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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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