Physician With Dubious Legal History Reemerges as Lyme Disease Expert

A doctor with a slew of legal problems has emerged as chronic Lyme disease expert.A physician who has been sued multiple times for medical malpractice has reinvented himself as an expert on chronic Lyme disease treatment despite his previous legal problems, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Dr. Jeffrey Piccirillo has emerged as a Lyme disease expert after being sued for medical malpractice, personal injury and negligence. After relocating from Illinois following legal problems, he was sued by a knee surgery patient who alleged he failed to properly diagnose a fracture and prevent it from worsening. As a result, the Iowa Board of Medicine charged Piccirillo with “professional incompetency” and had him sign an agreement placing his medical license on indefinite probation and prohibiting him from practicing surgery in Iowa. Soon afterward, the newspaper reports he signed a similar agreement with the Illinois Board of Medicine.

However, Piccirillo is in the news again for being one of the few “Lyme literate MDs” in Illinois and Iowa. Piccirillo, who is himself a Lyme Disease survivor, is now an expert on the chronic version of the ailment that some experts do not even acknowledge as a legitimate ailment.

In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, Piccirillo wrote that his previous legal woes do not influence his ability to adequately treat Lyme disease patients.

“I have trained hard in the area of Lyme disease to provide the type of care I hope to perfect over time… I aspire to be a better care provider than I ever was in my previous work,” he wrote.

Piccirillo also said he has trained as a specialized Lyme disease doctor with the International Lyme and Associated Diseases society, a group that promotes the diagnosis and treatment of chronic Lyme, and has been treating patients with the ailment for about two and a half years.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria typically carried by ticks. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that in most cases a tick must be on a person’s body for 48 hours to spread bacteria into the bloodstream, causing symptoms such as body-wide itching, chills, muscle pain, stiff neck and fever. The third stage of the disease is chronic persistent Lyme disease, which may develop months or even years after the ailment initially occurs.

If left untreated, the condition may lead to complications such as long-term joint inflammation, heart rhythm problems and brain and nervous system problems.