Misdiagnosis of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a common condition that affects approximately 1-103 people. It is usually diagnosed in childhood and in people over the age of 65 but it can affect anyone.

The only visible symptom of epilepsy is recurrent seizures caused by too much electrical activity in groups of neurons in the brain.

There are two main types of seizures, generalised and focal.

When a patient suffers generalised seizures these involve large areas on both sides of the brain whilst focal seizures affect a specific region.

It is essential unclear what causes epilepsy but certain factors include the increase of a person’s risk of developing epilepsy include brain injury due to trauma, infection and oxygen deprivation, scarring of the brain tissue, tumour and chemical/hormonal imbalances.

Research has also shown that there are genetic components to the development of epilepsy.

However, it still remains in approximately 60% of cases, that the cause of epilepsy is not known and it is classified as idiopathic epilepsy. This results in the diagnosis of epilepsy being very difficult and unreliable.

Despite advances and technology there is still an unacceptably high rate of misdiagnosis of epilepsy in the UK estimated at 20-31% in 2012.

The resulting issues are that people who do not suffer with epilepsy are prescribed potent anti-epileptic drugs unnecessarily whilst those who go undetected and undiagnosed wait a long time to begin treatment to get their epilepsy under control.

It is possible for the clinicians involved in the diagnosis of epilepsy to use certain diagnostic tools available to them including firsthand accounts and patient and witnesses, electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Each year more than 90,000.00 people in England and Wales are wrongly given a diagnosis of epilepsy and a new study is estimated this scale of misdiagnosis maybe resulting in unnecessary costs as much as £138m a year it says.

Most studies into misdiagnosis rates are based on focus studies on adult misdiagnosis and the problem may be worse in children.

There are of course costs and consequences to each individual patient who suffers as a result of misdiagnosis including the possible costs of unemployment or the threat of job loss. Indeed there are also side effects caused by incorrect treatment on misdiagnosed patients which impact in terms of health, quality of life and productivity.

Obtaining an early correct diagnosis of epilepsy is vital to treating patients correctly and availing them of correct treatment to protect their quality of life.

If you or somebody within your family feels that they have been misdiagnosed then please contact our team of medical negligence specialists in one of our 4 offices around the UK. Our team has extensive experience in claims, including Epilepsy cases and will be happy to discuss you claim with you and provide the best medical negligence advice.

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