Health policy could prove fatal for Lyme disease patients

Health policy could prove fatal for Lyme disease patients

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Once again the Department of Health has FAILED Lyme patients.

Developing a Clinical Pathway for tick-borne illness was one of twelve recommendations stemming from the 2016 Senate Inquiry into Lyme-like Illness in Australia. Under the new Clinical Pathway (guidelines for doctors for tick-borne diseases):

  1. The diagnosis and treatment of Australian Lyme and associated diseases by the Department of Health, is limited to infectious disease specialists or microbiologists. These practitioners often have waiting periods of several months and their clinics are usually limited to highly populated areas. According to the WHO and other international guidelines, Lyme disease must be diagnosed and treated early in order to avoid an unnecessarily long and debilitating illness.
  2. Lyme disease testing may only be done if the patient has travelled overseas. This excludes the thousands of people who have been bitten by ticks in Australia.
  3. Lyme disease diagnosis can only be made if they have clinical and diagnostic evidence, as well as evidence of infection spread in the community. The Department of Health does not count cases of Lyme in Australia – and therefore evidence of infection spread in the community does not exist – making it impossible for patients to receive a correct diagnosis.

Despite the evidence, the Pathway denies Australian-acquired Lyme and associated diseases and leaves patients in a dangerous medical limbo; scared, alone and with no diagnosis for a multitude of symptoms which may become life-threatening.

Lyme Disease Association of Australia Statement:

While 60-80 Australians per month asking the Lyme Disease Association for help, the Department of Health continues to FAIL patients.

The Pathway ignores the World Health Organization’s documentation of the Lyme pathogen in every region of the world and creates unequal and discriminatory access to diagnosis and treatment for all tick-borne disease patients.

International Lyme scientists and clinicians have joined us in refuting the Pathway:

“This document if instituted, is likely to contribute to ongoing patient suffering and potentially death in Australia,” 

Dr Richard Horowitz, Eminent Lyme expert, Consultant to the Australian Department of Health and LDAA patron.

“I have previously lectured on Tick-Borne Diseases in Australia. By restricting access to treatment for tick-borne patients you are fully responsible for an otherwise preventable epidemic of mental illness. I shall save this correspondence and be available to provide future testimony against you for committing this crime against humanity if you do not change this irresponsible policy.”

Clinical Associate Professor Robert C. Bransfield MD, DLFAPA, Eminent Lyme Psychiatrist, past President ILADS

In February 2020 we asked for a moratorium on the draft Pathway

It was not granted.

Minister Hunt, we call on you

It's time for the Department of Health to urgently prioritise ‘Patients First’, as the Senate Inquiry recommended 5 years ago. 

On behalf of all medically abandoned patients with Australian-acquired Lyme and associated diseases (i.e. ‘DSCATT’), we implore you to take a leadership position on this issue and take urgent action to immediately benefit patients.

We have provided you with definitive evidence that the Pathway is dangerous to patients and unacceptable in its inadequacy. We urge the Federal Minister of Health as a first and professionally responsible step, to remove the DSCATT Clinical Pathway from the Australian Government’s Department of Health website.


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