When people in New Jersey are diagnosed with optic neuritis, a sometimes-painful inflammation of the optic nerve that can be accompanied by vision loss, they may begin to receive treatment right away. However, up to 60 percent of those patients may in fact have received a misdiagnosis. This could mean that they are receiving unnecessary treatment or not being treated for a real underlying cause. In one study of patients from a Midwestern university clinic, researchers reviewed the medical records of 122 optic neuritis patients referred to the clinic from 2014 to 2016.
They discovered that only 49 were confirmed to actually have optic neuritis. On the other hand, 73 of the patients were misdiagnosed. Some had other optic neuropathies while others suffered from migraine or other types of headaches accompanied by eye pain. In some cases, physicians did not fully consider various aspects of the patients' symptoms or medical history, including how their episodes of vision loss took place. In other cases, patients were swiftly diagnosed with optic neuritis because they also had multiple sclerosis; the two disorders are commonly linked.
In other cases, doctors failed to consider other causes for their patients' symptoms and thoroughly investigate alternate possibilities. Other patients were misdiagnosed due to medical errors in evaluating the results of eye exams and MRI scans. Researchers suggested close attention be paid when making this diagnosis, noting their concern about a nearly 60 percent rate of mistakes.
People who are diagnosed with the wrong disorder may miss out on valuable time treating the correct progressive disease. In other cases, medical errors may subject patients to damaging treatments with significant side effects. Patients who have suffered a worsened medical condition due to a doctor's mistake may wish to consult a medical malpractice attorney about the potential to seek compensation for their damages.