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Dementia misdiagnoses can hurt patients' chances

Misdiagnosis can cause serious problems for people in Georgia who have Lewy body dementia. The disease is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease because it can present with initial symptoms similar to either of these. If it is misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's, the patient may be prescribed certain medications that they'll respond poorly to, or the patient may not be prescribed medications that could work well.

LBD might initially present with a cognitive or memory disorder that looks like Alzheimer's disease to doctors. Over time, though, symptoms develop that distinguish LBD from Alzheimer's. For example, the patient might develop visual hallucinations, REM sleep behavior disorder, changes in movement or fluctuating levels of alertness, attention or cognitive ability.

LBD can also present initially with movement changes rather than dementia. Doctors might believe the patient has Parkinson's disease until he or she eventually also develops dementia. The diagnosis of LBD is typically more accurate when it presents in the third way with neuropsychiatric symptoms. The patient might experience behavioral problems, difficulty with mental activity or hallucinations.

Other kinds of dementia include frontotemportal dementia and vascular dementia. Common symptoms of the former include euphoria, apathy, compulsive or inappropriate behavior or a decline in personal hygiene. Disorientation in known locations, incontinence, inappropriate laughing or crying, difficulty with instructions and shuffling steps are symptoms of vascular dementia.

In a case where a doctor or other healthcare professional fails to properly diagnose a patient, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim. A lawyer might be able to help people who have suffered harm due to a misdiagnosis by conducting witness depositions or otherwise gathering evidence and building a case in anticipation of trial. A lawyer may be able to identify parties who have liability, attempt to negotiate settlement and file a complaint for damages in civil court.

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