Misdiagnosis is a grave and complex problem that affects the lives of millions of people yearly all around the globe - causing severe harm in half of the misdiagnosed patients. There may, however, be some happy-ending stories just like the case of Tim Cook, now the CEO of Apple, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 36, which changed his whole life and how he has been seeing the world afterwards.
As today is World MS Day we would like to call your attention to this chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system, affecting the brain, the spinal cord and the optic nerves through the exemplary life of Tim Cook.
The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis range widely from numbness in the limbs to paralysis or vision loss. It is also not possible to predict how it will progress in any individual. Over 400,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with MS so far with around 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It is two to three times more common in women than in men, and the diagnosis usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 50 years.
Misdiagnosis with MS in 1996 had its major impact on Tim Cook’s life: it scared him enough to turn him into a marvelous contributor to charity, and even does bike races for good causes, such as taking part in a two-day cycling event to raise money for multiple sclerosis. He was made the Chief Executive of Apple in 2011 and under his leadership, the company has increased its donations, by 2014 it had given more than US$50 million to charity in three years. He has also become a fitness nut, enjoying cycling, hiking and rock climbing in his free time. However, we may still raise the question whether there has been enough done to prevent misdiagnosis?
Despite the happy-ending of Mr Cook's story, unfortunately, one cannot make a generalization about the positive outcome at all. He is not the only one having been misdiagnosed. Statistics show that 5% of all diagnoses are wrong. Out of the 240 million adult patient visits in the U.S. per year, 12 million results in misdiagnosis, causing severe harm in half of the misdiagnosed patients Moreover, misdiagnosis pose a huge burden economically, with a cost ranging from an optimistic estimate of $19 billion to a pessimistic $1trillion in the US. (BMJ Quality and Safety, 2014 September). Diagnostic error is under-recognized, under-studied and not integrated into quality measures or activities.
Our mission at InSimu is to decrease the number of misdiagnoses through helping medical students gain preclinical practice and confidence. InSimu Patient brings the case-based learning process to the utmost level of complexity and offers endless practice of clinical diagnostics on virtual patients, enabling medical professionals to see and diagnose an unlimited number of simulated patients anywhere, on their own - thus contributing to improved patient care.
On the occasion of World MS Day medical students can practice on simulated virtual patients how to diagnose MS with InSimu Patient app by completing the MS Day Challenge.