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OHSU study: Misdiagnosis of MS is costing health system millions per year
Date:5/9/2012

PORTLAND, Ore. It is relatively common for doctors to diagnose someone with multiple sclerosis when the patient doesn't have the disease a misdiagnosis that not only causes patients potential harm but costs the U.S. health care system untold millions of dollars a year, according to a study published online today in the journal Neurology.

The study is based on a survey of 122 multiple sclerosis specialists nationwide and was conducted by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Neurology is the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The survey found that all but six of the multiple sclerosis specialists more than 95 percent had seen at least one patient within the past year who had been diagnosed with MS by another medical provider, but the MS specialist "strongly felt [the patient] did not in fact have MS."

Almost three-quarters of the MS specialists said they had seen at least three patients within the past year who they believe had been misdiagnosed. More than one-third of respondents said they had seen six or more patients within the past year who had been misdiagnosed. In total, the study estimated that the 122 MS specialists had seen almost 600 patients within the past year who had been misdiagnosed with MS.

Many of the MS specialists said a significant percentage of these misdiagnosed patients had already begun disease-modifying therapy for MS, which carries potentially serious side effects and can be very expensive, often at least $40,000 per patient per year. Based on the responses from the MS specialists, the study estimated that the 122 MS specialists had seen approximately 280 patients who had been misdiagnosed and were receiving MS treatment costing the health system at least $11 million per year in unnecessary and inappropriate treatment for that group of patients alone.

"What we found was that the misdiagnosis of MS
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Contact: Todd Murphy
murphyt@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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