Cumberland County Superior Court, Portland, Maine. During an emergency room visit to Mercy Hospital in 2017, Dr. John Henson failed to accurately diagnose 25-year-old Peter Smith with Lyme disease, despite documenting clear symptoms of the disease, including fever, chills, headaches, and an “initial lesion of the rash that appeared “slightly target shape,” a common indicator of the tick-borne illness. Instead, Dr. Henson misdiagnosed Peter with a basic viral illness and erythema multiforme, a skin disorder also characterized by bulls-eye-shaped lesions. After weeks of worsening conditions, Peter was brought to the ER, where he was diagnosed with Lyme disease and Lyme carditis. Peter died a week later from complications associated with Lyme disease.
Note: Lyme carditis occurs in approximately one out of every 100 Lyme disease cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but only 11 fatal cases had been recorded worldwide between 1985 and 2019.