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Recent News from Rep. Bob Dettmer

2010 March 29

State Representative

Bob Dettmer

251 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Phone: (651) 296-4124          E-mail: [email protected]

 

March 23, 2010                                                                     

 

NEWS COLUMN

 Lyme Disease: Better Treatment for Minnesotans; More Protection for Doctors

By Bob Dettmer

State Representative

District 52A

During my two terms as your representative I have been confronted with variety of issues that impact our state. One issue I have particularly gravitated toward is Lyme disease. For more than two years now I have been pushing for reforms that would allow Minnesotans suffering from the disease to receive better treatment. I am encouraged because I think our efforts are starting to get some traction here in St. Paul.

Lyme disease is a growing problem in this state. Over the last decade there has been a 450 percent increase in the number of cases statewide. Minnesota currently ranks 8th nationally in number of Lyme cases, and more than 1,000 people were diagnosed last year. Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose and can often be confused with other ailments. The number of Lyme cases could be much higher.

I have joined Representative John Ward, of Brainerd, in the bipartisan effort to pass a bill to give patients and their doctors the ability to decide how best to treat each individual case. The current Infectious Diseases Society of America (ISDA) guidelines, that the Minnesota Medical Board follows, only allow doctors to prescribe 28 days of medication to Lyme patients. Doctors are subject to disciplinary action if they do not adhere to these guidelines.

Treating Lyme disease can be complicated, and in most cases four weeks of medication is not enough. It can take months or even years of antibiotic therapy to fully cure Lyme. In some states doctors who prescribe long-term antibiotic treatment have had their medical licenses suspended or revoked.

Fortunately this has not happened in Minnesota, but it is important for doctors to know they are protected and for patients to receive the proper treatment. Few doctors are willing to treat Lyme patients and those that do are swamped. Patients are forced to leave Minnesota and seek treatment in other states. It is my hope this bill will give patients and doctors more choice when it comes to Lyme treatment.

The bill has already passed the Senate and is currently in House committee hearings. Hopefully this will send a message to the Medical Board, and they will take another look at the guidelines. Lyme patients deserve the opportunity to seek the treatment they need without hassle. This bill will encourage increased access, free physicians to treat on a case-by-case basis and give patients more options.

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Representative Dettmer encourages constituents to contact him with questions or opinions on any state legislative issue.  He may be reached at rep.bob.dettmer[email protected] or 651.296.4124.  Mail should be sent to Rep. Bob Dettmer, 329 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

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