Lewy body dementia is being misdiagnosed at an alarming rate. In Texas and across the U.S., there are more than 1.4 million people with LBD, yet the number is no doubt higher due to missed diagnoses. This is despite the fact that LBD is not a rare disease: There are more LBD patients than there are patients with ALS, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy combined.
Why LBD is so misdiagnosed
LBD occurs when protein deposits called Lewy bodies develop in brain cells, affecting a person’s thinking and motor skills. Such impairment can also lead to hallucinations, depression, apathy and sleep disorders. Partly because of this, many doctors mistake LBD for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or a psychiatric disorder.
Doctors are unsure just how LBD arises and whether environment, chemicals or anything else can contribute to it. What they know is that it tends to be found in men rather than women and that patients are usually 65 or older. However, LBD does not discriminate between physically fit and unfit individuals. Even with the best medical care, victims may never be diagnosed.
What may happen with LBD patients
Typically, LBD patients will live five to eight years after diagnosis, dying from some underlying condition. This could be a swallowing difficulty, pneumonia or an infection. It is well-known that actor and comedian Robin Williams, who died by suicide in 2014, had LBD.
What you could do after a diagnostic error
Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses are often the result of medical negligence, which is a failure to live up to an objective standard of medical care. Under medical malpractice law, victims of such negligence can be eligible for compensation.
If you believe you have a valid case, you may want a malpractice attorney to assess your situation before anything else. The attorney might then hire third parties to build up your case before negotiations begin.