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GPs 'should rely on clinical judgment' in dementia diagnosis

GPs 'should rely on clinical judgment' in dementia diagnosis
8th October 2008

Doctors have been urged to rely on their clinical judgment when assessing patients for dementia.

Psychological instruments, such as the mini mental state exam (MMSE), should only be used alongside clinical judgment, said Dr David Anderson, consultant in old age psychiatry for Mersey Care NHS Trust.

Speaking at Primary Care Live, he explained that people are starting to believe that the instrument is the gold standard and questioning whether GPs can compare.

"But we are the gold standard and it would be a tragedy if these instruments replaced clinical skill and clinical expertise," he commented.

Dr Anderson pointed out that using the MMSE during dementia diagnosis is "extremely dangerous" in uninformed hands and doctors should be aware of its limitations.

The Council of the European Union recently named Alzheimer's disease as a priority, stating that it and other neurodegenerative diseases represent a challenge to the continent.

It called for greater levels of cooperation in research into the conditions.

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