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White Paper

Diagnostic Excellence in Dementia Care White Paper

Learn more about barriers to timely and accurate dementia diagnosis, and how a systems safety strategy can improve diagnostic excellence.

ECRI's white paper: Diagnostic Excellence in Dementia Care identifies challenges related to dementia diagnosis, with a focus on the roles of clinicians, patients, and caregivers; more importantly, it offers actionable recommendations to remedy these challenges. 

Overview 

​​​​​​​​There is a common misconception that diagnosis is a single event conducted by one healthcare provider at a specific point in time. In reality, diagnosis is a complex process involving multiple people and may occur over various periods, settings, and with different providers. Patient, family, and caregiver involvement are crucial for diagnostic excellence.  

This white paper addresses diagnostic errors in older adults, focusing on barriers to accurate dementia diagnosis and providing strategies to enhance diagnostic excellence in dementia care. Errors can occur at every stage of the diagnostic process, with the risk increasing in patients with complex medical histories, especially in older adults due to the prevalence of multiple health conditions. Research shows that diagnostic errors are more common in older adults, leading to greater patient harm compared to younger populations. In the United States, an estimated 2.59 million diagnostic errors occur annually, resulting in serious harm or death for nearly 800,000 people.  

Systems Safety Strategies for Improvement 

While some progress has been made by organizations like the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, and Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders, individual health systems and providers can also contribute by taking a collaborative, all-stakeholder approach to problem-solving that enhances early detection and diagnosis of dementia. 

Download the White Paper