Alon Avidan, MD: Putting Patients With Suspected Narcolepsy Into Buckets

April 15, 2020

The Director of the Sleep Disorders Center and vice chair of the department of neurology at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine describes why labeling patients can lead to a misdiagnosis of narcolepsy.

“We often see patients who truly have the condition but were tested incorrectly by the clinician. If it’s not done correctly, the results cannot be used to exclude or cite if a patient actually does have narcolepsy.”

Misdiagnosing narcolepsy and other sleep disorders can be attributed to clinicians labeling patients based on symptoms or common traits that other previously diagnosed patients may have experienced. Oftentimes, a lack of medical history records or proper screening tests can lead to a misdiagnosis, which can ultimately damage a patient’s future if they are prescribed incorrect treatment.

Alon Avidan, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center and vice chair of the department of neurology at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine feels as though clinicians are not taking enough precautions before fully diagnosing a patient—or, in other words, they’re placing patients into a bucket. These “buckets” as Avidan calls them, are essentially used to group patients who may show those similarities but may not have the same diagnosis.

NeurologyLive sat down with Avidan to discuss the issues and challenges caused by placing patients into these buckets, as well as what specific symptoms clinicians may confuse with narcolepsy when making a diagnosis.