Misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s devastated patient
Emma was devastated at the age of 57 to be told by a doctor that scans showed that she would probably develop Alzheimer’s in the next five years – a misdiagnosis which caused her to lose her job and change her retirement plans. More than a year later the mistake was corrected – she came to Amrit Dhaliwal at Medical Accident Group for help in seeking redress.
As an epileptic, Emma had regular check-ups and reported at one when she was 55 that her short-term memory seemed to be worse than before. She had an MRI scan, which showed few changes compared to a previous scan. A specific note was made that it had ‘no particular features to suggest Alzheimer’s’, a diagnosis backed up by later cognitive checks. But a second scan a year later was annotated ‘possibility of Alzheimer’s is raised.’
MRI scans used as evidence
At a follow-up appointment the next year, Emma asked about her scans. The doctor gave her the wrong information about the scans, adding that she would ‘in all likelihood’ develop Alzheimer’s in the next five years. Emma was devastated – the doctor referred her to the Alzheimer’s Society for advice and help, but at a follow-up appointment, she told Emma that ‘if it were her, she would be very worried,’ listing the effects of the condition.
Emma had to take time off work to come to terms with this diagnosis; she and her husband changed their retirement plans and they feared that she would have to go into a nursing home. She began to suffer from insomnia because of the anxiety the diagnosis had caused, eventually asking for another appointment.
Correct diagnosis and action
She saw a different doctor who told her that she categorically did not have Alzheimer’s. It was then that Emma came to Medical Accident Group for help and advice.
She said: “Amrit took over the case and having an experienced person like her, who knew her way round the system, meant that she dealt with matters swiftly and I trusted her judgment.”
Regarding the case, Amrit said: “She was absolutely devastated by the misdiagnosis, as you would expect – the scans didn’t support it and there was no other clinical evidence of it, and that became clear on questioning. Emma was eventually given an accurate diagnosis by another doctor, which was an enormous relief for her.
“Dementia touches so many people, profoundly affecting their own and their families’ lives – to be told that it was a certainty, especially at a relatively young age, was a blow from which she has taken a long time to recover.”
Emma received an admission of failings with an apology from the doctor concerned.