Study shows slow diagnosis of neurological diseases

Most patients with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis are facing delays in diagnosis of more than a year.

That conclusion comes from a new survey sponsored by GE Healthcare and conducted by Praxis Research, which polled physicians and patients in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and France.

According to the survey, the average times from noticing symptoms to receiving a diagnosis were more than 12 months across all three diseases. In addition, 40% of physicians who participated in the survey thought it takes too long to diagnose these conditions and that patients suffer as a result of the delay.

Compared with the other countries, the U.K. lags in access to diagnostic tests, including MRI, PET, and SPECT scans. The data showed that 50% of U.K. patients wait up to three months for an MRI scan, compared with only 10% in the U.S. and 15% in Germany.

For PET scans, 44% of U.K. patients wait more than three months, compared with 6.5% in Germany and 12% in France. For SPECT scans, more than half of U.K. patients wait more than three months, compared with 10% in Germany and 14% in France.

During the year-long diagnosis period across the diseases, patients are often unable to conduct their normal lives, GE noted. For example, more than half of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis who were employed during the diagnosis period needed to take time off of work, with 20% taking at least a month.

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