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Potential new tool to limit doctor error in diagnosis of disorder

A once almost unknown disorder in children and young adolescents has become a common household word over the past few decades. Now, as many as an estimated 7 percent of children are treated for Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD. Of those children, though, it is not known how many of them may be victims of doctor error because of misdiagnosis. Maryland families may be interested to learn that there could be a new tool to aid doctors when they trying to properly diagnose children with suspected ADHD.

Some researchers have recently conducted tests using an MRI machine to determine whether it could be an effective aid when a child is suspected of having ADHD. Preliminary results suggest that the machine has detected a possible biological clue that may reveal the presence of the condition in a child. The MRI has appeared to detect a lower presence of iron in the brain of children who may have the disorder. A lower level of iron in the brain seems to equate to a lower presence of dopamine which is a chemical that can regulate mood and activity levels and is suspected of playing a role in ADHD.

Children who are believed to suffer from ADHD are usually treated with a medication such as Ritalin. However, some doctors may mistakenly prescribe the medication for a child who does not actually have the disorder. According to one of the researchers, it is unknown at this time what side effects the medications may have long-term, especially for patients who do not have the condition.

For the time being, MRIs to determine brain iron are still being tested for accuracy in making a positive diagnosis for ADHD. Until testing is conclusive, doctors may continue to incorporate the standard methods of determining whether a child has the disorder. Maryland families who believe that their children may have been a victim of a doctor error or misdiagnosis of any medical condition or illness that caused physical harm as a result do have the right to file a medical malpractice claim against the physician or other medical provider who may have been responsible. If this action is successful, then the patient may be awarded compensation for any monetary damages that were sustained as a result of the medical error.

Source: Fox News, "MRI scan may help prevent ADHD misdiagnosis", Nicole Kwan, June 17, 2014

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