Dementia diagnosis rebate call for family consults

A SPECIFIC Medicare item number should be allocated for GPs to consult with family members of individuals suspected to have dementia, to facilitate earlier diagnosis, experts say.

The call follows an international report, The World Alzheimer Report, which found that only 20–50% of dementia cases were recognised in primary care in high income countries, and a second report from ­Alzheimer’s Australia, Timely Diagnosis of Dementia: Can We Do Better?, which estimated that a firm diagnosis of dementia took three years after symptoms developed. 

Professor David Ames, director of the National Ageing Research Institute, said adding an informant interview item to the Medicare schedule for GPs to assess cognitive impairment would be worthwhile.

“If you actually look at how geriatricians and psychiatrists work with people who might have dementia, most of us focus a significant amount of the assessment on a conversation with a trusted