Children not receiving adequate ADHD care

A new study reports that many pediatricians provide substandard care for children with ADHD,  with doctors  failing to follow even basic guidelines for diagnosis and treatment.

Dennis Thompson of HealthDay writes:

“Nearly one-third of pediatricians who diagnose children with ADHD do not consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a necessary step in determining if the kids meet the criteria for the brain disorder, researchers found.

A large number of pediatricians also do not gather parent and teacher ratings of a child’s day-to-day behavior, information that is crucial in diagnosing ADHD and tracking whether prescribed therapies are working, the study said.

And finally, doctors appear to lean heavily on drugs for treating ADHD. Nine out of 10 kids with ADHD are on some sort of medication. But only one out of 10 kids is receiving behavioral therapy or psychotherapy as well, according to the study.”

Lead author of the study Jeffery Epstein, director of the Center for ADHD, Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, is also concerned about the time pressure involved in these diagnoses: “Typical office visits are 10 to 15 minutes in length.” he says. “To try and assess ADHD in a 15-minute period is a very difficult thing to do. “

Thus, it can take less than 15 minutes to get a life-changing ADHD diagnosis, and in most cases these diagnoses are made without parent or teacher evaluations.

Epstein advises concerned parents to ask their pediatrician about the diagnostic process and get referrals to pediatricians providing satisfactory care.