NHS to update classification system to reflect that M.E. is neurological disease | 06 August 2018


It was confirmed last week by DX Revision Watch, that the recording of M.E. and CFS as previous examples of a ‘multisystem disorder’ will now be replaced in SNOMED CT by the more appropriate, ‘disorder of the nervous system’.

This follows the welcome efforts of advocate Suzy Chapman, who writes the authoritative blog, DX Revision Watch, and Sonya Chowdhury, on behalf of Forward ME and Action for M.E.

SNOMED CT is a comprehensive electronic clinical classification system used by the NHS, that records known diagnoses and symptoms with the aim of making clinical information consistent across healthcare settings.

In some respects it would seem to be more relevant to UK residents than the World Health Organisation international classification system, as electronic NHS patient records should be updated to reflect the change.

While chronic fatigue syndrome unfortunately remains the parent term in this clinical vocabulary, M.E. is recognised as a synonym along with other recognised terms.

The change will take place in the UK in October, and, as SNOMED CT is also used internationally, it will also be reflected in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and other European countries.

It is too soon to say what practical effect, if any, this might have on patient relations and treatment within the NHS, but it at least means that ME/CFS will now be listed under a more appropriate heading.

Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association:


“This is a subject that the Countess of Mar and the Forward ME group of charities have been closely following for some time. So, it is good news to see that M.E. will now be classified as a neurological disorder in the SNOMED CT system – a position that appears consistent with WHO classification of M.E.”


“As our summary states, it is difficult to know what practical effect this will have in the consulting room – because doctors are not normally following, or reading about, changes to the SNOMED classification system.”


“But it will be helpful when we still have to challenge a media or medical profession statement that ME/CFS is a mental health condition. It may also be helpful for people with ME/CFS when they are having to challenge a faulty benefit, insurance or legal decision which is again being based on an inaccurate mental health classification of M.E.”








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