Doctors in New Hampshire and throughout the country often have difficulty diagnosing patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). There is no single test that can determine if a person has the condition. Instead, medical professionals must review a person’s medical history, conduct an MRI and perform other evaluations. According to a study published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, roughly 20 percent of patients sent to a pair of MS centers were misdiagnosed.

One of the centers was MS at Cedars-Sinai while the other was located at UCLA. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center analyzed 241 patients who were referred to these clinics between July 2016 and June 2017. A total of 43 patients had been misdiagnosed, and these patients received care for the condition for an average of four years. Many of these patients actually had conditions such as migraine headaches, neuropathy and spondylopathy.

According to the researchers, the patients who were misdiagnosed did not show sufficient signs of the condition as determined by McDonald standards. The McDonald criteria was first implemented in 2001 in an effort to prevent misdiagnosis and come to the correct diagnosis in less time. The criteria has been periodically revised, with the last update coming in 2017. Specifically, the study found too much trust placed in radiographic findings.

If a patient is misdiagnosed with a condition, it could result in a person’s condition worsening until the right diagnosis is made. It could also result in time and money lost in vain. In some cases, such an error may represent medical malpractice. Malpractice generally occurs when a medical professional makes a mistake despite having the tools or experience needed to make the proper diagnosis. A patient can take legal action to pursue compensation for medical bills and other related damages.