South Africa: Father with ADHD son takes on psychiatrist

South Africa: Father with ADHD son takes on psychiatrist

- in World News
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How accurate are the tools used by experts to diagnose children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

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That is a question a Johannesburg father is asking after discovering that several South African doctors have been using an outdated questionnaire to assist them with their diagnoses.

David Nefdt-Epstein, a father of two, has lodged a complaint with the Health Professions Council of South Africa against Johannesburg child psychiatrist Brendan Belsham.

The complaint concerns the Conners Ratings Scale, which is used by health professionals internationally and consists of a check list of behaviours that caregivers, teachers, parents and children over the age of eight can complete. 

Nefdt-Epstein said of Belsham: “Can he and others claim that they didn’t know they were administering a fake assessment, which has no diagnostic value whatsoever? If so, should we then not challenge their credentials and their diagnoses? After all, these are the experts in their field.”

A South African company, JvR Psychometrics, represents Conners in sub-Saharan Africa. The company’s managing director, Dr Jopie de Beer, said those using the scale would probably not have the scoring-key manual that was provided and as such would not be able to generate “norm-referenced” scores.

“Norm referenced scores are very important because they take into account the age of the individual and compare them to a normal population. Without normed scores, there is no reference point to understand the severity of the symptoms.”

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