Schizophrenia is a very serious mental disorder that is treated with powerful antipsychotic medications. However, a recently conducted study suggests that schizophrenia could be overdiagnosed throughout Pennsylvania and around the country. A research team from Johns Hopkins University came to this conclusion after analyzing the cases of 54 patients who had been sent to a Baltimore clinic after receiving a schizophrenia diagnosis from their doctors. The researchers found that only 26 of them had been properly diagnosed.
After interviewing the patients and their families and performing thorough physical examinations, the researchers determined that 28 of the individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia were actually suffering from mood disorders or severe anxiety. A review of the medical files revealed that schizophrenia was most commonly misdiagnosed after patients reported hearing voices. The researchers also discovered that doctors rarely advise patients diagnosed with schizophrenia to consult a specialist in brain disorders to get a second opinion.
While these results may be worrying, they are unlikely to come as a complete surprise to experts in the field. This is because many of the symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, disjointed thoughts, delusions and erratic behavior, are common to several other mental illnesses. Another challenge facing doctors is that patients who suffer from mental health issues tend to exaggerate their symptoms. The research was published in the March 2019 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Practice.
Studies like this one reveal how frequently certain types of medical mistakes are made. Such data could be used by an attorney to help garner a better settlement in a medical malpractice claim.