Families of New York residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia may want to take heed of findings showing the prevalence of doctor misdiagnosis. Treatments are few and many are still experimental, but a study’s authors state that the future treatments will likely be very specific to the type of dementia. Findings show that in the best of situations, nearly a quarter of total Alzheimer’s prevalence was misdiagnosed as either false negative or false positive. The presence of psychosis was a leading factor in a failure to diagnose correctly.
Past studies showed that misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s was a problem, but the range was set between 12 and 23 percent of total cases. In a more current study, the rate was found to be 24 percent. One of the investigators stated that the study only used the patients’ final diagnosis, which generally comes after years of observation and testing, so this rate of doctor misdiagnosis should be seen as the minimum.
Alzheimer’s patients exhibiting psychosis were more likely to be diagnosed with another form of dementia. The forms of dementia share similarities in terms of symptoms, but they have differing causes. A doctor’s failure to diagnose an illness correctly could result in delayed treatment and a worsened condition.
Families of Alzheimer’s patients often face a difficult road, whether caring for their loved ones directly or making treatment decisions on their behalf. The doctor’s failure to diagnose an illness correctly can make the burden that much heavier, leaving families wondering later if the outcome could have been different. If the family of a dementia patient suspects a negligent physician or misread test results is responsible for their loved one’s worsened condition, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to help.