More than 95% of multiple sclerosis (MS) specialists report that they have seen at least one patient within the last year who had been misdiagnosed with MS by another medical provider, according to researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. 

The study, which was based on a survey that encompassed 122 MS specialists, also indicates that three-quarters of the MS specialists noted that they had seen at least three patients within the past year who they believe had been misdiagnosed. The results also suggest that more than one-third of the survey respondents indicated that they had seen six patients or more within the past year who had been misdiagnosed. Researchers add that many MS specialists reported that a significant percentage of misdiagnosed patients had already started disease-modifying therapy for MS. Andrew Solomon, MD, lead author, rearticulates the study’s findings. “What we found was that the misdiagnosis of MS was common—perhaps more so than previously thought. This has significant consequences for patients and for our health care system as a whole.” Dennis Bourdette, MD, senior author, director of the OSHU Multiple Sclerosis Center, adds that the misdiagnoses of patients translates not only into potential expensive, harmful treatments, it also translates into a lack in appropriate treatment for the diseases the patients actually suffered from.

A recent news release notes that the survey also highlighted the emotional and ethical challenges present in the misdiagnosis of a patient, with more than two-thirds of MS specialists reporting that informing the patient diagnosed with MS that they did not have MS was more challenging than informing a patient of a new diagnoses of MS.

The study ultimately spotlights the significant conflict that the dangers, costs, and physician challenges linked to misdiagnosed diseases, pose to the US health care system, researchers say. 

Source: Oregon Health & Science University