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Study: many are misdiagnosed with MS

Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center in Los Angeles have published a study showing that many patients are being misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis. They reviewed the referrals of 241 patients to two MS clinics, one at Cedars-Sinai and one at UCLA. In all, 17 percent of patients at the Cedars-Sinai clinic and 19 percent at the UCLA clinic had been incorrectly diagnosed.

Of those who had been misdiagnosed, 16 percent had migraines, and 9 percent had a condition called radiologically isolated syndrome, where the MRI findings may point toward MS but the patient does not experience any MS-related symptoms. Seven percent had a disorder of the vertebrae called spondylopathy, while another 7 percent had neuropathy.

Seventy-two percent of misdiagnosed patients had been given MS treatments, and 48 percent of those patients also received disease-modifying therapies with a well-known risk for serious side effects, such as viral infections in the brain. On average, patients received their MS treatments for four years. Researchers calculate that about 110 patient years of MS-modifying therapy were wasted on these patients, costing a total of $10 million.

There are guidelines in place for diagnosing MS, known as McDonald Criteria. Almost 20 percent of those 241 patients did not meet the criteria. Researchers are striving to improve imaging techniques and find new biomarkers to help with more accurate diagnoses.

A misdiagnosis can lead to medication errors, the side effects of which can harm patients. Meanwhile, they could suffer from the worsening of their actual condition. Those who believe that a doctor's negligence is to blame for their circumstances may want to see a lawyer about filing a malpractice lawsuit.

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