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Increase in prescriptions for ADHD may indicate false diagnoses

Prescription drugs can be a lifesaver for some conditions when properly prescribed.  But sometimes a prescription can be a shortcut when a condition could actually benefit from some other type of therapy before resorting to intervention of prescription drugs. A recent study seems to indicate that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be one of these conditions. The study shows that, in Louisiana and throughout the country, prescriptions for drugs to treat ADHD increased substantially between 2008 and 2012, possibly indicating a failure to diagnose the condition properly.

In 2012, nearly 5 million Americans with private insurance were prescribed medication for ADHD. That was an increase of 35 percent since 2008. The researchers indicated that the rise in ADHD diagnoses may be linked to misdiagnoses for mood or anxiety disorders. The findings suggest that ADHD has become a “go-to diagnosis” for any patient that has symptoms similar to those associated with the condition.

The study also looks at age and gender differences in the prescribing of ADHD medications.  Males between the ages of 12 and 18 are the largest percentage of patients using the drugs.

Some researchers believe that, just by their nature, boys are more aggressive and impulsive which may cause a misdiagnosis of ADHD.

Ideally, a visit to the doctor will result in a proper diagnosis followed by proper treatment.  Doctors who are under unrealistic deadlines these days may find it easier to jump to a conclusion than to take the time to properly diagnose what can be very subjective symptoms. 

Failure to diagnose the correct condition, especially combined with an inaccurate prescription to treat it, cannot only fail to treat the problem, but can even be dangerous, or even deadly. Anyone who believes that they have been misdiagnosed or treated inaccurately may benefit from the advice of an attorney who is experienced in medical malpractice cases to determine whether the misdiagnosis has created any liability on the part of the medical provider.

Source: Modern Healthcare, “ADHD medication may be overprescribed in the U.S.,” March 18, 2014

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