Almost half of people suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have been dismissed by doctors who claim their illness is psychological.
Scientists have warned there is a ‘profound’ lack of understanding of the condition, also known as ME, in hospital settings.
Around 40 per cent of patients avoid going to A&E in fear they won’t be taken seriously because of claims it’s ‘all in their heads’, a study found.
The Georgetown University Medical Centre study is the first known investigation into how CFS is treated in the emergency department.
It suggests the majority of patients are not receiving proper care, or being misdiagnosed with something else.
The study was conducted on 282 participants, who were predominantly women, educated, and had physician-diagnosed CFS.
Only 30 per cent of patients reported receiving appropriate treatment in an emergency, according to the research.
‘The high proportion of patients who were basically told “It is all in your head” by ED staff indicates that there is much misunderstanding and misgivings about thediagnosis of CFS,’ said the study’s lead author, Dr James N Baraniuk said.
‘These patients should feel they are respected and that they can receive thorough care when they feel sick enough to go to an ED.’