The American Medical Association is warning doctors that some of the best diagnostic tests used to diagnose mental illness have come from the practice of medicine.
The AMA, which represents more than 200,000 physicians across the country, released its own statement on Thursday, saying that some mental health diagnoses are not accurate or depend on subjective assessments.
Many tests and procedures used to assess mental illness were developed by doctors, the AMA said.
The American Psychiatric Association says there is no scientific consensus on which tests are the best.
In a statement released on Thursday by the AMA, the group says that its members, including doctors, have been “warned about the potential for inaccuracy in some of these tests.”
The statement comes just weeks after a study found that more than 1 million Americans were misdiagnosed for depression.
About a third of those misdiagnoses are for people who have mental illness, and some of those patients are likely to go on to develop major health problems.
The APA also warns doctors not to overdo the test results.
“Some of the tests are used to make diagnoses and provide guidance, but many do not provide specific medical information,” the statement says.
The study of the misdiagnosis rate was published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
The findings prompted the AMA to recommend that doctors use a different set of tests to assess a patient’s mental health and to provide guidance to help them navigate the process of diagnosing a mental illness.
It said doctors should use “the most accurate, reliable and effective” tests to evaluate a patient.
“If there is a real risk of misdiagnosing a person, a primary care doctor should make sure that the diagnosis is based on an accurate assessment of the patient’s needs and circumstances,” the AMA statement says, adding that it is a medical judgment and that doctors should be alert to these issues.
The statement says some doctors “may not understand the significance of their role in the diagnostic process” and may use some of their test results to justify their own practices.
The AAP says it has not been contacted by anyone who has experienced a misdiagnostic test.
In addition to the APA, the American Psychiatric Associations has a national steering committee that advises the American Psychological Association on issues related to mental health, addiction, and substance use.
The group said in a statement that its guidelines and recommendations are based on the best available evidence.
“The APA is concerned that a misreporting of diagnosis or misinterpreting a diagnosis may result in harm and even death to patients and others,” the APAC statement said.