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Lubbock County Medical Malpractice Attorney
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Researchers say optic neuritis is overdiagnosed

Texas residents might be interested in a study that found that the eye disease optic neuritis is frequently diagnosed in patients who are actually suffering from something else. The researchers determined that almost 60 percent of the patients in the study who were referred for optic neuritis were actually misdiagnosed.

Researchers examined the medical records of 122 patients at a Midwestern university clinic who were referred for optic neuritis between 2014 and 2016. Of those 122 patients, only 49 were confirmed to have optic neuritis. The other 79 patients were ultimately diagnosed with various conditions including headaches and other optic nerve conditions.

The researchers found that most of the diagnostic errors involved the patients' medical histories. Mistakes were often caused by failure to consider vision loss episodes or other symptoms. Some diagnoses were biased by the presence of multiple sclerosis, which is associated with optic neuritis. The second most common type of error was failure to consider other diagnoses, and the third most common type of error was misinterpretation or discounting of exam results.

The authors wrote that overdiagnosis of optic neuritis could lead to unnecessary procedures including lumbar punctures and MRIs. Twelve patients in the study who were not confirmed to have optic neuritis had received lumbar puncture, and eight had been treated with intravenous steroids.

While misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary treatment, failure to diagnose a condition or disease that is present can lead to a worsening of the patient's condition. When a medical mistake causes harm, the victim might be entitled to compensation. Compensation could be awarded if a medical mistake was proven to have been caused by human error or some other deviation from the standard of care.

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