General practitioners in Britain -- primary care physicians in the United States -- refer suspected dementia patients to specialists for a formal diagnosis that often includes using CT scans of the brain. Only when a formal diagnosis is completed can patients have access treatment and support from the National Health Service. Any delay in a diagnosis means being denied help, which could slow the onset of symptoms.
Meanwhile, doctor's offices are stretched trying to provide services for the undiagnosed patients.
An investigation from GP magazine found where a patient lived made all the difference in a dementia diagnosis.
In May, patients were found to have waited more than six weeks in 37 out of 97 Clinical Commissioning Groups that supplied figures. Six weeks is the maximum waiting time advised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, GP magazine reported.
Ten had waiting times of more than 12 weeks, and three had patients wait six months.
The investigation also found patients in some areas waited up to 12 months in 2012-13 because of a backlog in cases and delays to CT scans, the magazine said.