Throughout New York and the rest of the nation, Alzheimer’s disease is often misdiagnosed. A misdiagnosis can come in the form of a false positive, when doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s in patients who don’t have it, or a false negative, when doctors fail to detect the condition in a patient. A recent study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translation Research and Clinical Intervention reveals how psychosis complicates matters.
Researchers from the University of Toronto used data from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center to see how psychotic patients with the disease were diagnosed. Researchers discovered that while about 75 percent of all patients were correctly diagnosed, 11.9 percent got a false-negative diagnosis and 12.1 percent received a false-positive diagnosis. Patients with psychotic features had an increased rate of false-negative diagnosis and a lower rate of false-positive diagnosis than other patients.
In addition, psychotic patients were 500 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies, a condition similar to early-stage Alzheimer’s. This shows how common psychotic symptoms can be in both dementia and Alzheimer’s. Authors of the study encourage clinicians to be less hasty in their diagnoses when they know a patient has symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions. If they do not know but suspect that a patient has psychosis, they could use the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire.
The victim of a misdiagnosis can consult with an attorney about filing a medical malpractice suit. Failing to diagnose a condition is a serious charge that often requires an investigation. If the victim received unnecessary medical care due to a false-positive, a lawsuit could be filed for medical bills and mental anguish.