Many New York residents who have been told that they have cellulitis might have been misdiagnosed, according to a study. Researchers from several hospitals including Massachusetts General Hospital found that more than 30 percent of cellulitis diagnoses are incorrect. The misdiagnoses result in unnecessary hospitalizations and antibiotic prescriptions.

Cellulitis is a fairly common bacterial skin infection that can be very serious in some cases. People contract cellulitis when they have a wound or a skin irritation that becomes infected by bacteria. The most serious cases of cellulitis involve potentially deadly superbugs like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. While cellulitis can be life-threatening, the misdiagnosis of cellulitis also poses a health risk to patients.

According to the study, 92.3 percent of patients who are misdiagnosed with cellulitis are given antibiotic prescriptions that they do not need. Unnecessary hospitalizations are another problem for misdiagnosed patients, and researchers found that 84.6 percent of patients that are misdiagnosed with cellulitis are hospitalized without need. Researchers believe that there are about 44,000 patients each year who are placed at risk for complications related to unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions for cellulitis misdiagnoses.

Many people contract superbug infections during hospital stays, so a misdiagnosis of cellulitis and an unnecessary hospitalization can put a patient at risk for an actual cellulitis infection. People who have been hospitalized for an infection may want to go over their medical records with an attorney to determine whether a misdiagnosis occurred at any point during their care. If so, the attorney might find it advisable to assist the patient in seeking compensation for the harm that has resulted.