Hundreds of patients a year are being misdiagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic disease that assaults the central nervous system. The symptoms for MS vary for each patient and can range from mild numbness in the arms and legs to serious paralysis and blindness.
Misdiagnosis of MS is Common
Researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center surveyed 122 multiple sclerosis specialists and asked them how many MS misdiagnoses they have seen in the last year. The research revealed that misdiagnosis of MS is extremely common – more common than anyone thought. The survey concluded that more than 95 percent of the specialists said they had seen at least one patient in the last year that had been misdiagnosed with MS; 75 percent said they have seen at least three .
Why is MS being Misdiagnosed?
MS is extremely difficult to diagnose and often requires the expertise of a physician that specializes in the disease. There is no definitive blood test or imaging scan to determine a MS diagnosis. Because there is not test, doctors have to rely on many different factors, including:
- The patient’s health history
- A detailed medical examination that tests balance, movement, and vision
- Spinal fluid tests
- Brain scans
It is suspected that doctors inexperienced with the disease are relying too much on MRI brain scans and not enough on the other factors; resulting in hundreds of patients being misdiagnosed with MS.
Misdiagnosed Patient Are Receiving the Wrong Treatment
Misdiagnosis of MS means that patients are receiving potentially harmful treatment that they don’t need. The drug therapy for MS carries serious side effects for some patients and the treatment is very expensive. Not only are misdiagnosed patients receiving treatment that may be harmful to them, they are not receiving the treatment that they do need.
The Oregon study reveals the importance of expertise in diagnosing diseases like MS. If you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed with MS or another disease, talk to an experience medical malpractice attorney about your options.