A recent study led by Professor Eric Caumes is sounding the alarm on the problems of over-diagnosis of Lyme disease. Nearly 80% of the prescribed antibiotic treatments are totally useless. He explains why.
"I did not invent anything, everything has already been written 25 years ago", explains bitterly the head of the service of infectious and tropical diseases with the Pitié-Salpêtrière, Éric Caumes, in an interview granted to Why Doctor. According to him, there is a real diagnosis problem in France with general practitioners.
24 medications prescribed daily ... for nothing
Dr. Eric Caumes just published, in the famous journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, a study in which he points to a serious problem of over-diagnosis of Lyme disease. Of 301 patients who saw it after being diagnosed with this disease, only 9.6% saw this diagnosis confirmed. For the rest, a mountain of antibiotics has been prescribed without any use.
"Patients came to my office with prescriptions of antibiotics that lasted for several years with zero benefit and a lot of side effects - that was all-important, there was even one who had a prescription with 24 drugs to take daily, "he rebels.
80% of patients on antibiotics ... for nothing
After the first consultation, he stopped the antibiotics in half of the patients. "What I did was that I listened to the patients, I did what is called a Hollollist approach, and using the evidence processing, I realized that 80% of the patients have received antibiotics for nothing. "
Finally, the diagnosis of Lyme disease was confirmed in 9.6% of patients. "For the others, there was a real loss, they were not treated properly," he explains. A third of them had psychological problems. The rest suffered from rheumatological or muscular diseases (19%), neurological diseases (15.2%) or other diseases (33.7%), including a significant number of sleep apnea syndrome.
"To name is to appease"
Professor Eric Caumes reminds us that in the context of infectious diseases, "the treatment is normally fast, it takes about 48 hours to cure the antibiotics, and I had a patient who, for example, had a prescription on which was written 'to take until healing.' It's just not possible, "he breathes.
Philosopher end, he quotes Roland Barthes to try to understand this problem of over-diagnosis: "to name is to appease". "By putting a name on the patient's illness, the patient feels reassured.2 But the problem here is that the illness announced had nothing to do with reality," he fumed.
A problem with general practitioners
But then, why were all these patients diagnosed with a disease that is not theirs? "The problem," says Dr. Caumes, "is that GPs are no longer listening to patients, but it's not entirely their fault." Good consultation should last about an hour when in reality they are being shipped. in fifteen minutes. "
According to him, general practitioners are not paid enough, which explains their need to go faster with patients. "Result, patients are lost and attached to what they hear or read right and left," he laments.
He also points to a training problem in these doctors who miss the symptoms of Lyme disease. "It is necessary that the health and political authorities seize the problem otherwise it will continue", warns Éric Caumes.