MN Board of Medical Practice Votes to Abstain from Investigating Lyme Doctors
The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice (MBMP) voted 8-6 to adopt a moratorium on investigating physicians who treat chronic Lyme with long-term antibiotics. Stating that the science for diagnosis and treatment of chronic Lyme is unsettled, the Board agreed to a 5-year period in which to allow science to answer unresolved questions.
The resolution was posted on the MBMP website on Friday and the Board will further “educate its staff, medical coordinators, and members regarding this voluntary action.”
The effort to protect physicians who treat Lyme disease with long-term antibiotics was spearheaded by the Minnesota Lyme Action Support Group (MLASG) and Dr. Elizabeth Maloney. Minnesota state senators John Marty and Ray Vandeveer, and state representatives John Ward and Bob Dettmer took up the cause, introducing legislation at the start of the 2010 legislative session which would have limited the medical board’s authority to investigate complaints related to the treatment of Lyme disease. As the bills advanced, behind the scenes negotiations produced an agreement with the MBMP which formed the basis of the MBMP’s resolution; this agreement allowed the legislation to be tabled.
Studies have shown that the bacterial agent of Lyme disease can survive the one-month treatment regimen commonly recommended for the treatment of the infection. Patients with chronic Lyme have difficulty finding doctors who will treat the infection more aggressively, as many physicians fear being investigated by the MBMP should they treat long-term. Doctors in other states have faced investigations; some have had their license revoked. With few doctors willing to take on Lyme patients, many have had to travel out of state for appropriate medical care.
With the MBMP resolution in place, doctors and patients who decide that long-term antibiotic therapy is appropriate can now choose this course of action without fear of reprisal. In 2008, Minnesota ranked 8th in the nation, with 1,282 reported cases of Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates this number is 10 times greater, due to the under-reporting of known cases.
MLASG believes this resolution is the first step to increasing the number of Minnesota physicians willing to become better-educated in treating the most common vector-borne disease in the country. MLASG promotes educational activities for the public and health-care professionals about Lyme disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
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