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

was common -- perhaps more so than previously thought. This has significant consequences for patients and for our health care system as a whole," said Andrew Solomon, M.D., the lead author of the study.

Solomon worked on the study while he was a post-doctoral fellow in multiple sclerosis at OHSU and at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Solomon is now an assistant professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and is a member of the University of Vermont Medical Group Neurology Service at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Dennis Bourdette, M.D., the senior author of the study and director of the OHSU Multiple Sclerosis Center, said the misdiagnoses not only meant patients were getting expensive and potentially harmful treatments they didn't need, but they were also not getting the appropriate treatment for the diseases they may have had.

"These patients were getting the wrong treatment and missing out on the correct treatment," Bourdette said.

The survey also detailed the emotional and ethical challenges of informing a patient of a misdiagnosis. More than two-thirds of the MS specialists said that informing a patient with a diagnosis of MS that they likely did not have the disease was more challenging than informing a patient of a new diagnosis of MS. And, in an especially surprising finding, about one in seven of the MS specialists said they had sometimes chosen not to inform a patient of their suspected misdiagnosis, citing among their reasons the fact that the patients were not receiving MS treatment, or the potential psychological harm in changing a diagnosis.

The study underlines a significant but underappreciated problem within the U.S. health care system: the dangers, costs and physician challenges associated with misdiagnosed diseases.

In recent years, medicine has begun paying more attention to medical errors and adverse medical events -- giving a patient the wrong drug or too much of
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Contact: Todd Murphy
murphyt@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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