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Study reveals disagreements in fibromyalgia diagnosis methods

Residents of Kentucky should know that many people are mistakenly diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a condition marked by chronic pain and fatigue. Furthermore, investigators at a university clinic have found a discrepancy between the clinical diagnosis and criteria-based diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The results were published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

The study began with 497 patients completing the Multidimensional Health Assessment Questionnaire and a questionnaire with the American College of Rheumatology's preliminary diagnostic standards for fibromyalgia. Rheumatology staff at the university clinic then evaluated the patients.

Of those patients, 121 met the ACR diagnostic criteria and 104 received a clinician's diagnosis of fibromyalgia. In about 79.2 percent of the cases, clinical- and criteria-based diagnoses agreed. However, clinicians could not identify fibromyalgia in 60 patients who tested criteria-positive, and they misidentified 43 criteria-negative patients.

Investigators say that these results put into question the effectiveness of diagnosing conditions based on the International Classification of Diseases. They point to issues regarding clinician bias and the meaning of a fibromyalgia diagnosis, however, the criteria for that diagnosis are easy to use.

Misdiagnoses can lead to the worsening of a patient's condition, unnecessary treatments and preventable injuries. Patients will also suffer physically and emotionally from mistakes and their consequences. However, if negligence on the doctor's part is to blame for a misdiagnosis, legal action may be warranted. This means filing a medical malpractice claim. Such claims usually end in large settlements, but the other side will do all it can to deny payment or get victims to settle for a low-ball offer. Victims also do not have the ability to gather evidence on their own. This is why hiring a lawyer may be advisable.

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