Some diseases are relatively easy to diagnose through tests, scans or simply recognisable symptoms. Others, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are much more difficult to identify, and the consequences of being misdiagnosed and treated for MS when you do not have it are much more serious.
Our experts in the medical negligence team at the Negligence Claimline outline your options if you have been misdiagnosed with MS or have been prescribed the wrong medication.
MS is a chronic neurological disorder which sees the immune system attack the fatty tissue that surrounds the nerves. This results in nerve damage, which affects communication between the nerves and the brain.
The symptoms experienced by MS sufferers include limb numbness or weakness in the arms and legs, dizziness, vision impairment, slurring and coordination problems. Such symptoms, however, are also common to other brain conditions such as a stroke or migraines and since MS cannot easily be diagnosed through blood tests or MRI scans, misdiagnosis of the condition is common.
As there is no definitive test to identify MS, doctors rely on a combination of other factors to reach a diagnosis. This usually includes:
- an in-depth study of a patient’s medical history;
- detailed tests of their balance, movement and vision;
- spinal fluid tests; and
- brain scans.
Even with such testing, however, misdiagnosis is still relatively common, particularly if the testing physician is not an expert in the field.
Indeed, research has found that 72 of 110 patients diagnosed with MS also suffered from other conditions including migraines and fibromyalgia. The same study found that some of those misdiagnosed with MS received treatment for four years before receiving the right diagnosis.
MS is often treated with so-called ‘disease-modifying therapies’ which can reduce the number and seriousness of the relapses MS sufferers experience, and slow down the damage caused by relapsing MS that builds up over time.
Although effective in relieving the symptoms of MS sufferers, such treatment can be harmful for those who do not actually have MS. The study showed that among those who received treatment for MS, 48 per cent had received treatments that can lead to progressive multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, a viral infection that attacks nerve cells and harms the white matter in the brain.
As well as receiving potentially harmful treatment that they do not need, patients misdiagnosed with MS are also not receiving the treatment that they do need, thus allowing the condition they do have continue unabated.
If you have been misdiagnosed with MS, you should consult a specialist medical negligence lawyer. They will help establish whether the doctor who treated you has been negligent and advise on whether you have a valid compensation claim to pursue.
Your solicitor will help you gather the evidence needed to strengthen your case, arrange for you to be examined by a medical expert who will assess the cause of your injury and the effect it has had on your life, and strive to secure you the compensation package you deserve.
For a confidential discussion about misdiagnosis of MS or any other medical negligence issue, contact us today for a free initial consultation with one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors on 01245 253214 or email [email protected]
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.