According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable and sometimes disabling disease in the central nervous system. While millions in the U.S. live with the disease, a recent study reveals another large segment of the population receiving treatment for the disease: those misdiagnosed.
According to HealthDay News, the study found that of 241 patients previously diagnosed with MS referred to two Los Angeles medical treatment centers, nearly one in five did not actually have the disease. This alarming statistic enhances the prevalence of misdiagnosis among doctors, health care providers and other medical professionals and the consequences that patients suffer because of it.
Patients spent nearly four years on average receiving treatment
Among the findings from the study is that on average, patients spent nearly four years being treated for MS before discovering that they suffered from something else. The majority of patients received specific treatments while others received therapies that could carry risks for those not suffering from the disease, according to the research. Aside from the time spent receiving unnecessary treatments, researchers estimated that the financial cost of such treatments amounted to almost $10 million.
What leads to such costly errors?
The study acknowledges that the diagnosis of MS can be challenging, as a range of other diseases carry similar symptoms. Such conditions can include migraines, which most of the incorrectly diagnosed MS patients suffered from, as well as strokes and even vitamin B12 deficiencies.
While patients across California and the U.S. hold doctors and medical professionals to consistently high standards, errors can still occur. When misdiagnosis errors occur, the effects on patients can be devastating. Patients can suffer serious and painful side effects from unnecessary treatment or medications, as well as emotional trauma from believing they suffer from a serious disease and significant financial hardships.
What patients can do
Patients may feel like there are few options left after receiving a puzzling or shocking medical diagnosis. Seeking a second medical opinion can be critical in revealing a misdiagnosis. Especially for serious, disabling or chronic diseases, a second opinion can offer you some peace of mind and guard you against unnecessary or even harmful treatment options.