Study offers new tool to reduce misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

The consequences of a misdiagnosis spread quickly and affect every aspect of a patient’s life. Physiological decline, emotional trauma, separation from family and financial instability can converge to change the present and the future. Medical research, however, continues to develop ways to reduce how often they occur. A recent study revealed a new tool—an algorithm—psychiatrists can use to reduce the frequency in which patients with bipolar disorder (BD) are initially diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Algorithm identifies potential factors

The study arose from a survey that found nearly 70% of patients with BD receive an initial diagnosis of MDD. More than one-third of those patients remains misdiagnosed for more than a decade. A more common diagnosis, MDD treatment focuses more on antidepressants. The limited impact these have on BD, as well as potentially changing a patient’s mood, prompted development of the algorithm.

The study created a model to predict of conversion of MDD to BD. After analyzing data across multiple databases, researchers reported nine variables that predict a one-year MDD-BD transition. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Younger age
  • Severe depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance misuse

Further research will help determine whether MDD represents an earlier stage of BDD or they are the same illness. In the United States, more than 17 million people have been diagnosed with MDD and more than 7 million with BD. Veterans and older patients comprise a significant number of patients.

North Dakota claims lowest in the United States for ten years

Misdiagnoses of mental illness represent a small number of the total number annually. According to national statistics, plaintiffs file approximately 20,000 medical malpractice lawsuits annually in the United States. Data show that North Dakota ranks lowest in the number of lawsuits filed in the last ten years. One hundred lawsuits have cost more than $26 million.

Trends in medical malpractice reflect the numbers and types of lawsuits filed. The impact on patients and families fluctuates less dramatically. Attorneys who understand the complex relationship between medicine and law can offer guidance.