November 29, 2021

Diagnostic Delay in Epilepsy: the Scope of the Problem

Abstract, originally published in PubMed

Purpose of review: Diagnostic delay is an increasingly recognized issue in epilepsy. At the same time, there is a clear disparity between public awareness of epilepsy and that of other public health issues. A contributing factor for this seems to be a lack of studies testing interventions designed to improve seizure recognition. In this review, we summarize the main findings from recent studies investigating diagnostic delay in epilepsy, highlighting causes, consequences, and potential interventions in future research that may improve quality of care in this population.

Recent findings: Building on prior evidence, diagnostic delay in patients with new-onset focal epilepsy has been identified as an important problem for patients with epilepsy. Such delay in diagnosis can lead to delayed treatment and potentially preventable morbidity and mortality including motor vehicle accidents. Nonmotor seizure semiology appears to be a major contributor for delay; such seizures are largely unrecognized when patients present to emergency departments for care. Improving recognition and diagnosis of recurrent nonmotor seizures in emergency departments represents a significant opportunity for improving time to diagnosis, particularly when patients present following a first lifetime motor seizure and meet diagnostic criteria for epilepsy. Diagnostic delay in epilepsy is a significant public health issue and recent studies have highlighted potential areas for intervention.

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