Patients in New Mexico with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis might wish to get a second opinion. The findings of a new study indicate that misdiagnosis of MS may be a problem. Twenty-four neurologists who specialize in MS combined their efforts to analyze cases throughout the country. They identified 110 patients who had been incorrectly diagnosed with MS.

The lead writer of the study said that many rare disorders exist that present symptoms similar to MS. However, the study found that five somewhat common conditions accounted for the true causes of two-thirds of the misdiagnosed patients in the study. Among these patients who had been led to believe that they had MS, 72 percent of them had taken medication for a disease they did not have. Some had undergone therapies for MS for many years, and the misdiagnosis of 33 percent of those people persisted for a decade or more.

The MS specialists admitted that the disease can be notoriously difficult to identify. Blood tests cannot detect the condition, which attacks the nervous system and disrupts communication between the brain and body. In addition, symptoms of other neurological conditions could be confused with MS. The researchers urged clinicians to carefully apply the criteria for diagnosing MS. If someone does have the disease, treatment should begin promptly.

The challenges of diagnosing MS and other neurological conditions illustrates the harm that could occur if a patient does not receive treatment or takes the wrong medication. Someone whose health has declined because of a failure to diagnose or a delayed diagnosis might be able to launch a malpractice lawsuit. An attorney might help with the process of assembling medical evidence and filing court papers. Compensation for medical bills, lost income and suffering could be sought by the attorney through negotiations or a court trial.