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One in 20 with Parkinson's disease misdiagnosed

More than one in 20 patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease have been misdiagnosed and can be taken off treatment safely- suggests a study of 92 Scottish general practices.

Researchers searched prescription databases and identified 610 patients with a diagnosis of Parkinson's and taking antiparkinson therapy.

Those with no documented disease progression or increased in medication dose in the previous three years were assessed by two movement disorder specialists, who then started tapering off medication in those they felt were unlikely to have an accurate diagnosis.

Thirty-six patients – or six per cent of the total – successfully stopped treatment. Most were diagnosed as having essential tremor or vascular parkinsonism instead. On average they had been taking antiparkinson drugs for 6.8 years.

Lead author Dr Edward Newman, research fellow at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow said: ‘At least one in every 20 patients taking medication for Parkinson's is misdiagnosed and nearly all of these patients can be identified by simple screening of prescription and case records, followed by clinical review, which allows withdrawal of unnecessary medication.'

Movement Disorders. Published online 4 Nov.

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