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Survey: Lewy body dementia often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's

Lewy body dementia can be confused with the dementia that results from Alzheimer's disease. In fact, a recent survey from the Lewy Body Dementia Association found that 80% of participants with LBD were misdiagnosed as having Alzheimer's. These patients had to see an average of three doctors before receiving an accurate diagnosis. Ohio residents may want to hear about the experiences of one patient advocate who was similarly misdiagnosed.

At 52 years old, one man was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's after months of seeing a neurologist and then a psychiatrist. The neurologist suspected the man had depression, an initial diagnosis that is common among those with LBD, and the psychiatrist thought he had Lyme disease. All the while, the man was having problems multi-tasking and experiencing changes in personality; he was more easily provoked to anger than before.

Memory problems emerged slightly later. The man eventually underwent a neuropsychological exam, MRIs, PET scans and other exams. Each one pointed to the possibility of a neurological disorder, especially Alzheimer's. It took two and a half years after his Alzheimer's diagnosis before he was correctly diagnosed with LBD.

The correct diagnosis was preceded by the discovery of REM sleep behavior disorder, which is one prominent symptom of LBD. Hallucinations and symptoms reminiscent of Parkinson's are also characteristic of LBD.

Many doctors diagnosing a patient with Alzheimer's will simply prescribe medications and never refer the patient to support groups or other organizations. Where a clear case of negligence leads to misdiagnosis, then victims may be able to seek compensation for any unnecessary treatments they went through or for any pain and suffering they incurred. Filing a medical malpractice claim is a complicated matter, so victims may want a lawyer to assist them. If the other side is willing to negotiate, the lawyer may strive for a fair settlement.

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