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Invited Commentary
Practice Gaps
October 2014

The Impact Dermatologists Can Have on Misdiagnosis of Cellulitis and Overuse of AntibioticsClosing the Gap

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(10):1061-1062. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.1164

We have all experienced the patient with red legs, referred for refractory “cellulitis” not responding to systemic antibiotics. Primary care, urgent care, hospitalist, and emergency department physicians are on the front line seeing these patients; however, they often lack the training that allows them to recognize cellulitis mimickers. This constitutes a practice gap. Patients are overdiagnosed as having cellulitis, leading to inappropriate use of antibiotics and unnecessary hospitalizations driving up health care costs while treatment of the true underlying inflammatory condition is delayed. Dermatologists are uniquely positioned to offer our expertise in these scenarios, which not only improves patient outcomes but also lowers health care costs.

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