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100,000 'epileptics' misdiagnosed

26th October 2006

04092006_consulting_room1.jpgAlmost 100,000 people each year are being wrongly diagnosed with epilepsy, according to a new study.

The misdiagnosis could be costing more than £135 million a year, as well as contributing to a small number of deaths.

Writing in the journal Seizure, researchers from the Health Services Management Centre at Birmingham University and the National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care at the University of Leicester, say misdiagnosis happens with one in four cases, accounting for 92,000 people in England and Wales each year.

Epilepsy is one of the most common conditions in the UK and affects more than one in 200 people. As well as undergoing unnecessary treatments, people with a misdiagnosis may experience social and financial deprivation. In a small number of cases some people may die prematurely.

The authors say diagnosing epilepsy is difficult, and one of the problems may be down to patients being seen by medical practitioners who are not specialists in the condition.

Instead they recommend everyone who has suffered a recent suspected seizure should be seen quickly by a specialist. Health commissioners should also ensure specialists follow national guidelines on the management of epilepsy that were developed the 2004 for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

The report calculates the average medical cost of misdiagnosis is £316 a year per patient. This includes inappropriate prescribing of antiepileptic drugs, hospital admissions and clinic and GP surgery appointments.

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Comments

Anonymous

Friday 27th October 2006 @ 12:10

As someone who was told that she did not have epilepsy I have been on the other end of this debate.

I was seen very quickly by a consultant neurologist following a 'grand mal' seizure and all the tests (CT EEG - normal) and was told that 'it probably was not a proper fit and anyhow anyone can have one fit in a lifetime' go home and forget about it!' I did what I was told, however I suffered from what I called 'funny feelings' often in the next few years usually when I was on my own - I now know that these were petit mal seizures.

To cut a long story short I eventually had another big seizure and was then diagnosed and treated 5 YEARS later. My epilepsy has been hard to control and I am told probably would not be so bad if I had been treated earlier (kindling effect). To be honest I would have rather been told I had epilepsy in the begining and treated as such rightly or wrongly.

Perhaps better monitoring of the condition is the key. Because of service cuts I am now only seen at my GP surgery hey ho.

Anonymous

Thursday 13th September 2007 @ 22:24

The increase in suicide in epilepsy sufferers comes from a sense of alienation due to the loss of social contact because of the driving ban and the fight to avoid loss of employment and the loss of social past times.


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Article Information

Title: 100,000 'epileptics' misdiagnosed
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 981
Date Added: 26th Oct 2006

Sources

BMJ Current Edition

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