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BME patients twice as likely to have dementia missed

DEMENTIA: NHS hospitals fail to spot dementia in more than a third of patients with a prior diagnosis of the condition

NHS HOSPITALS fail to spot dementia in more than a third of patients with a prior diagnosis of the condition, new research by University College London (UCL) has revealed.

The figures relate to cases where patients have been admitted for a separate health concern to their dementia.

Dr Andrew Sommerlad, lead author of the study and an academic at UCL psychiatry, said: “People with dementia are more likely to be admitted to general hospitals for other illnesses, partly due to difficulties taking care of themselves – and once they’re in hospital, those with dementia tend to have longer stays and face more complications. Hospital records need to accurately reflect the patient’s condition so that doctors can tailor their care accordingly.”

Researchers identified people who had been diagnosed with dementia in South London and Maudsley NHS foundation trust memory clinics, and then admitted to a general hospital. The researchers examined whether dementia was one of the diagnoses listed on the patient’s hospital summary upon discharge.

The study is the first to discover an improvement in dementia diagnosis in hospitals over time. It also identified inequity between ethnic groups.

Those from ethnic minority backgrounds are almost twice as likely to been subject to missed diagnoses in general hospitals compared to white patients.

Gill Livingston, the study’s senior author and a professor in UCL’s psychiatry department, said: “While our study focused on people who already had a dementia diagnosis, there are likely to be others who are not known to have dementia and are admitted because their dementia has led to them, for example, losing weight as they forget to eat or are unable to organise to buy or cook food. Hospital admissions can be an opportunity to receive a timely diagnosis.”

She added: “We would also like to encourage people who have noticed changes in their memory to speak to their doctor or hospital staff about it. Getting the right diagnosis can help people plan for the future, and ensure they’re getting the care that’s best for them.”

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