Why Some Doctors Are Not Diagnosing ME/CFS
There are a number of reasons why medical practitioners are not reaching a diagnosis of ME/CFS. Many of these have their origins in the historical context in which ME/CFS was described before it was fully recognised by the government, the UN and the medical establishment.
- Many doctors were not taught about ME/CFS at medical school or have incomplete, distorted, misleading or outdated views about the illness.
- Some doctors are reluctant to make a diagnosis of ME/CFS because they believe it is an ill-defined condition which may be associated with unhelpful patient beliefs.
- As yet, there is no specific blood or other bio-marker that can be used as a diagnostic test (there is much current research in this field see for example Klimas, Nancy G. et al., 2012 review, and 2010 article, Sonya M. Marshall-Gradisnik et al. 2014, and 2011 articles). However, it must be remembered that ME/CFS is not the only condition for which there is no defining laboratory test, eg. MS, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease are not diagnosed by bio-marker.
- Although (in the UK) the NICE Guidelines recommend ME/CFS be diagnosed with 3-4 months and GPs do recognise the importance of making an accurate diagnosis, there is uncertainty amongst some doctors as to how to make a clinical diagnosis of ME/CFS. This has been compounded by the very limited availability (UK) of specialist referral services for ME/CFS patients. The most recent survey (UK) of GP attitudes and knowledge about ME/CFS reported that 48% of GPs (811 GPs were surveyed) did not feel confident with making a diagnosis of ME/CFS and 41% did not feel confident in treatment.
ME Alliance, ME/CFS Diagnosis: “Delay Harms Health Early diagnosis: why is it so important? A report from the M.E. Alliance“, Dr Charles Shepherd.
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Brenu, E. W., et al. “Immunological abnormalities as potential biomarkers in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.” J Transl Med, 2011, 9: 81.
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