Rebate call for family consults in dementia diagnosis

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 this week’s publication of two separate reports on the need for diagnosing dementia early.

The World Alzheimer Report, produced by Alzheimer’s Disease International, found that only 20–50% of dementia cases were recognised in primary care in high income countries.

And a report from Alzheimer’s Australia, Timely Diagnosis of Dementia: Can We Do Better?, estimated that in Australia a firm diagnosis of dementia took three years after symptoms were first noticed.

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