The Hidden Costs of Paying Physicians More to Diagnose Dementia


A plan from the British government to pay doctors for every diagnosis of dementia that they make is an act of “folly,” writes physician David Zigmond in the British Medical Journal Blogs. In the main journal, physician Margaret McCartney discusses the close links between the UK Alzheimer’s Society and the pharmaceutical industry.

“This fresh folly draws from these simplistic assumptions: that dementia is an illness that is underdiagnosed and undertreated; that doctors are undermotivated to address these problems; and that financial incentives will substantially change our burdens from dementia,” writes Zigmond. He then examines how the partly natural, and largely incurable aspects of dementia will lead to far worse treatment of the elderly under the new policy.

“The [Alzheimer’s Society] is ‘working in partnership’ with the drug company Lilly UK to supply leaflets to the public, titled Worried About Your Memory,” writes McCartney in her article on the same topic. “Together they have also produced a document called Patient Journey. And Lilly, along with AstraZeneca, recently announced phase II/III trials of a new drug for use in ‘early Alzheimer‚Äôs.'”

Margaret McCartney: Industry’s interest in diagnosing more dementia (McCartney, Margaret. British Medical Journal. December 3, 2014. doi:

David Zigmond: Payments for diagnosing dementia‚ÄĒwhat are the hidden costs? (BMJ Blogs, November 21, 2014)


  1. “A plan from the British government to pay doctors for every diagnosis of dementia”
    WHAT?!? I mean what can possibly go wrong here?
    This begs only one question: are they that stupid or are there some “special interests” involved?

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    • Yes. And many of these people will be put on psych drugs to manage their “depression”, “anxiety disorder” etc. resulting from the diagnosis and some of these drugs are likely causing/exacerbating dementia so it will only “confirm” that these people were correctly diagnosed.
      Psychiatry is creating its own patients – how convenient.

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  2. The thing is: how do you diagnose something as serious as dementia on a ¬£40 investigation; memory is individual. As far as I know ‘dementia’ drugs only stimulate and in the long run the effect could be paradoxical.

    (The worst memories in the UK are probably in teenage cannabis smokers)

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