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Deadly sore throat bacteria is often misdiagnosed

New Jersey parents may be shocked to learn that a common throat infection could be deadly to teenagers and young adults. Worse, it is commonly missed by doctors, who often only test for strep throat.

A 2015 study found that sore throats caused by a bacteria known as Fusobacterium necrophorum, or F-throat, were more common than those caused by strep throat. For the study, researchers examined 312 university students that presented with sore throat symptoms. Of those students, 20 percent had F-throat while 10 percent had strep throat. If left untreated, F-throat can lead to extreme sickness and death. However, since the infection is not widely recognized, many doctors do not know what the appropriate antibiotic treatments are. For example, F-throat responds to penicillin and metronidazole while strep throat responds to a different list of antibiotics.

Some of the symptoms of F-throat include a severe sore throat that lingers for many days, swollen neck glands, swelling on one side of the neck, fever, pus at the back of the throat, night sweats and chills. Health care experts recommend that parents and teens become aware of these symptoms and tell doctors to consider F-throat, especially if a patient’s throat culture tests negative for strep throat.

It is estimated that up to 15 percent of all diagnoses in the United States are incorrect. If a doctor fails to diagnose a serious F-throat infection, it could lead to a worsened medical condition or even death. Victims of misdiagnosis may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor that made the error. If the case is successful, it could lead to someone receiving a settlement that covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, mental anguish and other related damages.

Source: Peoples Pharmacy, “Sore Throat Misdiagnosis Could Kill Teenagers,” Joe Graedon, Feb. 19, 2015