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Baltimore jury awards nearly $800K to man whose severe Lyme disease was misdiagnosed

A Baltimore man who experienced severe Lyme disease symptoms after medical staff at a Catonsville Urgent Care failed to diagnose the illness won a $792,000 jury verdict in the city’s circuit court.

Jurors awarded money to the plaintiff, Daniel Riddic, after concluding that a physician assistant at the facility breached the standard of care when he treated Riddic in July 2018.

Riddic went camping overnight in June 2018 and soon noticed a red, itchy bug bite on the underside of his right arm. He sought treatment for the bite at Patient First Primary and Urgent Care in Catonsville on July 3, 2018, according to the lawsuit.

A physician assistant there, James Donaldson, diagnosed Riddic with cellulitis, a common type of skin infection.

Riddic returned to the Urgent Care three weeks later because he was experiencing lip swelling and pain. Donaldson saw Riddic again during this visit and diagnosed him with an allergic reaction to “a new type of soda from Rite Aid” that Riddic drank an hour earlier, according to the complaint.

Riddic came back to the Urgent Care once more, on July 30, 2018. His face felt numb and was limp on the left side; one of his eyelids was also drooping. The medical staff referred Riddic to Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore for a neurological exam.

Larry D. McAfee, the lawyer for Patient First Maryland Medical Group and Donaldson, did not return a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.

At the hospital, Riddic received a test for Lyme disease that came back positive. He was given a 10-day course of doxycycline, an antibiotic that can be used to treat Lyme disease, but the treatment was not effective, according to Riddic’s lawyer, Jeffrey S. Quinn.

Riddic soon referred himself to the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center and was admitted directly to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with central nervous system Lyme disease and Lyme meningitis, Quinn said.

He received a four-week course of antibiotics through a central catheter, or PICC line, but continued to suffer symptoms and was diagnosed with Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome.

Riddic continues to experience permanent back, neck, shoulder and joint pain, headaches, decreased range of movement in his shoulders, limping, difficulty standing or sitting for long periods, and some facial paralysis, Quinn said.

“Mr. Riddic has only ever wanted justice and an acknowledgment by defendants that he was misdiagnosed and wrongly treated,” Quinn said. “After four and a half long years, Mr. Riddic is extremely grateful to the men and women of the jury who provided him with that recognition. Mr. Riddic feels vindicated, but must also continue on the long road of recovery to deal with his permanent injuries.”

The jury found that Riddic was not contributorily negligent when he failed to return to the Patient First Urgent Care for a re-check of his rash two days after the July 3 visit. Jurors also concluded that the treatment Riddic received at St. Agnes was not a superseding cause of his injuries.