By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – Legislation to create a study commission to develop a statewide plan to educate health care professionals about the diagnosis, management and treatment of the disease became law without Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee’s signature, according to a release from Legislative Press Bureau on June 29.
The legislation created the study commission was sponsored by Rep. Grace Diaz, D-Providence.
About 1.5 million Americans, including some 4,200 Rhode Island residents, live with lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America Inc.
Often affecting young women, lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause widespread inflammation, tissue damage and potentially fatal complications with internal organs, according to the foundation.
Diagnosis of the illness can be tricky; symptoms or signs of the disease might not be specific upon an attempt to diagnose it, or doctors may mistakenly use a positive blood test to make the leap. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states that those test results are present in 5 percent of the healthy population.
Under the new law, the commission will analyze the current state of education on lupus in Rhode Island, as well as evaluate resources available from government agencies, hospitals, and lupus advocacy organizations. It will also develop a detailed, comprehensive plan to improve education and awareness surrounding lupus for health care practitioners, public health personnel, patients and individuals who suffer from lupus.