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Misdiagnosis in Alzheimer's cases

Some people in Pennsylvania and throughout the country may have high rates of misdiagnosis related to Alzheimer's disease. These include both people who do not have the disease and are told that they have it as well as those who do have the disease but are not diagnosed. Early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's is important because there are drugs that may be able to significantly improve a person's quality of life and memory at an early stage. Furthermore, it allows people to plan for end-of-life care.

There are a number of potential reasons for these misdiagnoses. Alzheimer's is diagnosed based on symptoms, and it is only during an autopsy that a look at the brain changes can confirm a diagnosis. Men, who are misdiagnosed more frequently than women, may have problems with motor skills or language rather than memory resulting in misdiagnosis.

One study found that around 78 percent of patients in one study had a correct diagnosis. Of those remaining, around half were diagnosed with Alzheimer's but had other diseases including brain atrophy and Lewy body dementia. The other half had Alzheimer's but did not receive a diagnosis. Those who were not correctly diagnosed with the disease may have also been suffering from forms of dementia and similar conditions.

A misdiagnosis can cause significant harm to a patient. Unnecessary treatment may be provided while the actual condition worsens, requiring significant and expensive care in the future. Those who have been the victim of such a doctor error may want to meet with an attorney in order to see whether it amounts to compensable medical malpractice.

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