Doctor

Advice and explanations about dementia testing, diagnosis, medical practitioners and medications.

No time to investigate memory complaints?

No time to investigate memory complaints?

by DENNIS FORTIER

Based on a survey of nearly a thousand physicians in five countries (U.S., Japan, U.K., France, and Italy), we are not doing a very good job at diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease in clinical practice.

In fact, about half of all physicians (in an international physician survey on Alzheimer’s diagnoses) agreed that the disease is “often misdiagnosed” and that diagnoses are “always or often” made too late to treat in a meaningful way.

The survey revealed an interesting perspective from the physicians, in terms of “why” they feel diagnoses are so commonly late.

According to the physicians surveyed, the major contributing factors to late diagnosis are:

  • lack of a definitive diagnostic test;
  • lack of communication from patients/caregivers; and
  • stigma

Not mentioned among their reasons is the one glaring problem that primary care physicians confess to me on a regular basis: investigating memory complaints takes too much time, and often leads to a diagnosis of a problem they don’t feel they can treat effectively.

This perspective leads them to “just keep an eye on the concern” until symptoms worsen and the need for medical intervention is clear.  As the survey noted, this is “too late.”

Managing the cognitive health of an aging population is a complex problem, and a difficult one to approach within the confines of our current “fee for service” healthcare system.  As new models evolve, like the Accountable Care Organizations described in the Healthcare Reform Act, we will have an opportunity to greatly improve our standards of care in this important field.

Dennis Fortier is the president of Medical Care Corporation . For more info, go to his blog Brain Today, “clarifying the daily news about brain health.”

Reprinted with permission of Dennis Fortier


You might also enjoy:

Fresh hope in a new blood test

Test for 10 proteins predicts onset of disease over 12 months in those with mild memory loss with 87…

How do we define dementia?

Dementia is a symptom, not a specific disease. Leanne I. Hoppe, LSW, of CaregivingCompanion.com in Bloomington,…

How To Communicate Effectively With Your Loved One's Doctor

If you have aging relatives, you are most likely concerned about their physical, emotional and cognitive…

A Day in the Life of Lewy Body Dementia

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you suffered from dementia other than Alzheimer’s…

comments powered by Disqus