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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Medical costs of Alzheimer's disease misdiagnosis among US Medicare beneficiaries

Craig A Hunter, Noam Y Kirson, Urvi Desai, Alice Kate G Cummings, Douglas E Faries, Howard G Birnbaum
Alzheimer's & Dementia: the Journal of the Alzheimer's Association 2015, 11 (8): 887-95
26206626

INTRODUCTION: Recent developments in diagnostic technology can support earlier, more accurate diagnosis of non-Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementias.

METHODS: To evaluate potential economic benefits of early rule-out of AD, annual medical resource use and costs for Medicare beneficiaries potentially misdiagnosed with AD prior to their diagnosis of vascular dementia (VD) or Parkinson's disease (PD) were compared with that of similar patients never diagnosed with AD.

RESULTS: Patients with prior AD diagnosis used substantially more medical services every year until their VD/PD diagnosis, resulting in incremental annual medical costs of approximately $9,500-$14,000. However, following their corrected diagnosis, medical costs converged with those of patients never diagnosed with AD.

DISCUSSION: The observed correlation between timing of correct diagnosis and subsequent reversal in excess costs is strongly suggestive of the role of misdiagnosis of AD - rather than AD comorbidity - in this patient population. Our findings suggest potential benefits from earlier, accurate diagnosis.

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