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Study finds many MS patients misdiagnosed

A significant portion of new multiple sclerosis patients in Illinois and elsewhere could have been misdiagnosed, according to a recent study. The study was published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center, the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Vermont analyzed 241 new MS patient referrals sent to MS specialists at Cedars-Sinai and UCLA from physicians at other facilities. They found that 17% of patients referred to Cedars-Sinai and 19% of those referred to UCLA had been misdiagnosed. Of the patients who were misdiagnosed, 16% were actually suffering from migraines, 9% were suffering from radiologically isolated syndrome, meaning that their brain MRI scans resembled those of MS patients, 7% were suffering from a vertebrae disorder known as spondylopathy and 7% were suffering from neuropathy, or nerve damage.

Researchers also found that 72% of patients misdiagnosed with MS had been prescribed treatments for the disease. Of those who were prescribed treatments, 48% were receiving therapies known to have serious side effects, including a viral infection that can damage the white matter in the brain. On average, the misdiagnosed patients in the study were unnecessarily treated for MS for four years. The cost of those treatments was estimated to be nearly $10 million.

Patients who have been misdiagnosed with MS or other diseases may wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible doctor. An attorney familiar with medical negligence claims may carefully evaluate the case and determine if the doctor failed to provide the standard of care. If legal counsel believes that the doctor was negligent, the patient might be owed financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.