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Neuropathy Diagnosis Obstacles Damaging to Patients' Health
Date:5/16/2013

neuropathy’s prevalence, lack of awareness and a greater understanding of neuropathy’s complexities by the public as well as health care practitioners cause most patients to encounter time delays and a high probability of misdiagnosis and mistreatment before reaching a confirmed neuropathy diagnosis. A 2012 poll by The Neuropathy Association showed patients face a timeline between symptom onset and actual diagnosis lasting five or more years for almost a third (29.4.5%) of patients polled, a period of time during which irreparable nerve damage continued and access to appropriate care was impeded.

Because there are no cures, accurate diagnosis guides treatment path by assessing causes and nerve involvement; early diagnosis may be preventative. Needle electromyography tests (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) are neuropathy’s primary diagnostic tools, which can lead to genetic testing especially in cases of CMT. However, beginning January 1, 2013, Medicare reimbursement payments to physicians for EMGs and nerve conduction studies (NCS) were severely reduced by 30%-70%.

“This current diagnostic environment is a crisis unlike any we have ever known before—and is about to get worse,” shares Tina Tockarshewsky, president and CEO of The Neuropathy Association. “Neuromuscular physicians are specialists who are trained in diseases like the peripheral neuropathies. As a result of the recent Medicare cuts, The Neuropathy Association is hearing that neuromuscular physicians—specialists who work with neuropathy patients—are facing difficulties in practicing neuromuscular medicine, and have begun to stop seeing Medicare patients”

“Without increasing awareness and removing impediments to care, early diagnoses will be reduced and misdiagnoses will increase,” concurs Allison Moore, CEO of the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation. “Most health care practitioners do not have a basic understanding of the scope of the neuropathies, the diagnostic tools av
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