Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Misdiagnosing dementia

When I first started this blog several years ago now, I indicated I would return to the issue of the National Dementia Strategy (see previous post). Times have moved on and the incentivisation of GPs in the NHS to diagnose dementia, which began in 2011, has been controversial. This is because of the increased number of referrals of people with cognitive complaints not due to dementia (Bell et al, 2015). Mistakes can be made about the diagnosis of dementia and doubts have been expressed about the security of diagnosis for at least some so-called dementia advocates (Howard, 2017) (see previous post).

A systematic review of functional cognitive disorders has just been published in Lancet Psychiatry. Current views of functional neurological disorders tend to emphasise excessive attention towards physical symptoms rather than psychological stress as such in the generation of symptoms. People with functional disorders are more likely to attend alone and be worried about their memory, providing a detailed account of personal history and memory failures more than patients with neurodegenerative disease. Those with functional cognitive disorder phenotypes are at risk of iatrogenic harm because of misdiagnosis or inaccurate prediction of future decline.

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