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Schizophrenia patients can be frequently misdiagnosed

When it comes to treating mental illness, diagnostic accuracy is important. When people in Kentucky receive medications for the wrong illness, the results can be harmful, especially when the treatments have serious side effects. While those side effects may be worthwhile to treat a severe mental illness, they can be completely unacceptable when rendered without benefit to the patient. According to one study, at least half of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia at one clinic were misdiagnosed and instead suffered from anxiety. The treatment protocols for both disorders vary significantly, and a treatment for one disorder is likely to be ineffective for the other.

The study noted that many patients are diagnosed with severe mental illness by a general practice physician rather than a psychiatrist or other specialist. These physicians tend to rely on five symptoms to diagnose schizophrenia, including delusions, disorganized behavior, disorganized speech, hallucinations and negative symptoms. Auditory hallucinations, or "hearing voices," are some of the best-known symptoms of schizophrenia. However, this can also be a common cause of misdiagnosis. People may hear voices intermittently as a symptom of a number of conditions. Sometimes, it is a phenomenon that stops shortly thereafter. At other times, the patient is looking for a way to describe a more general feeling of discomfort.

The study examined patients treated between 2011 and 2017. They found that of 54 diagnosed patients, only 26 had their schizophrenia diagnosis confirmed. Over half were instead diagnosed as having mood disorders or anxiety, including 14 patients with prominent anxiety symptoms.

Antipsychotics and other schizophrenia medications can have serious, long-term side effects. People who have suffered a worsened health condition as a result of a medical mistake may be dealing with the aftermath for years to come. A medical malpractice attorney may consult with injured patients about the potential to seek compensation.

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