Diagnosing Epilepsy: Common problems
Epilepsy is one of the least understood chronic medical conditions, making it very difficult to diagnose. In fact, the numbers of misdiagnosed patients is startling. The NSE estimates that about 25 per cent of all epilepsy patients have been misdiagnosed with the condition. That means that of the 600,000 people with epilepsy in the UK, approximately 150,000 of them have been misdiagnosed. Let’s take a look at the common problems associated with diagnosing epilepsy, and how medical negligence solicitors may be able to help you if you’ve been mistreated or misdiagnosed.
Epilepsy’s one identifiable symptom is unprovoked seizures. However, this symptom is shared by many other medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, narcolepsy, mini-strokes, migraines, and panic attacks. Furthermore, the causes of epilepsy remain largely unknown. What we do know is that the condition most commonly affects children and adults over the age of sixty-five, although children may grow out of the condition as they get older.
More than forty types of seizures have been identified. They are usually classified in two groups: generalised seizures and focal (partial) seizures. Generalised seizures occur when there is epileptic activity in both hemispheres of the brain, while focal seizures occur in just one part of the brain. In each case, those around you may be unaware that you are having a seizure, especially if you do not lose consciousness.
Identifying the type of seizure you are experiencing can be tricky because many people have no recollection of their seizures and thus cannot accurately describe the event to a health care professional. For those who do remember their seizures, experts recommend keeping a seizure diary to record when and how they occurred, as well as any possible triggers.
In addition to reviewing your medical history, performing a physical examination, and analysing your blood and other bodily fluids, your health care professional may order a few tests before he makes his diagnosis. Although no single test can determine whether or not you have epilepsy, each can provide your health care professional with important clues.
An EEG may be ordered to record your brain waves and identify activity patterns, while CT and MRI scans may be ordered to determine if there are any physical conditions (e.g. growths, scars) that are causing the seizures. PET imaging may be used to help pinpoint which areas of the brain are responsible for the seizures.
As you can see, the diagnosis of epilepsy is a complicated, multi-step process which unfortunately leaves a lot of room for errors to be made. Being misdiagnosed with epilepsy may lead you to take powerful drugs that pose serious health risks, especially in young children or babies born to epileptic mothers. If you have been the victim of misdiagnosis, you may want to file for compensation. Clinical negligence claims are often long and complicated legal matters; enlisting the help of an experienced solicitor to work on your claim could help get your life—and your treatment—back on track.