The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has introduced a new guideline that offers comprehensive information on neurological conditions to help health care non-specialists identify people who should be referred for specialist evaluation and care.
The guidelines cover symptoms and signs that should encourage referral for further neurological evaluation. It also covers some examinations, assessment tools and investigative tests to help decide whether a person with a suspected neurological condition should undergo an additional examination or be referred to a specialist.
A recent study by the Neurological Alliance found that almost a third of respondents had to see their General Practitioner five times or more about the health problems caused by their condition before contacting a neurologist. It was also found that about 40% of respondents waited more than a year from the moment when they first noticed their symptoms, before contacting a specialist.
Dr. Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “People with suspected neurological diseases often need to see a specialist for diagnosis. However, we know that some people with neurological diseases are initially incorrectly diagnosed or have a delayed referral to a specialist, and some areas are not needed. These referral problems can come from non-specialists who do not recognize neurological conditions.”
“This new guideline should help improve results for people with suspected neurological conditions by providing for the first time a comprehensive assessment of the main signs and symptoms in the range of possible neurological conditions that should cause referral to a specialist.”
Neurological conditions are diseases or injuries that affect the brain, spinal cord, muscles, or nerves. Suspected neurological conditions account for about 1 in 10 General practitioner consultations and about 10% of emergency hospitalizations (excluding stroke) and result in disability in 1 in 50 of the UK population.