Misdiagnosis risk high for burning mouth syndrome

Research conducted by Case Western Reserve University's School of Dental Medicine highlights the ways in which a misdiagnosis can potentially harm a patient. The study centered on a medical condition referred to as burning mouth syndrome. BMS is a complex and painful affliction that manifests in recurring or chronic scalding, tingling, or burning feeling in the person's mouth. It can sometimes include a sensation of dry mouth or a metallic taste.

According to an assistant professor and researcher at the dental school, the symptoms of BMS can be similar to those of other conditions, making a misdiagnosis more likely. A misdiagnosis can result in wasted money and resources, as well as prolonging the discomfort of the patient. She said many clinicians and dentists lack proper training about burning mouth syndrome, and useless treatments might be ordered in cases of misdiagnoses.

This problem is similar to those caused in many medical situations. A doctor who is inadequately trained, or who ignores his training or simply fails to listen carefully to a patient can misdiagnose the problem, sometimes with tragic results.

She added that many other conditions that can cause a burning feeling in the mouth can be treated easily, like anemia, dry mouth and diabetes, but the causes of BMS are not yet certain. Some medical evidence indicates the syndrome might be related to some sort of nerve dysfunction. Patients sometimes find relief by eating certain foods or by chewing gun. BMS is thought to effect between 0.1% and 4% of the general population, and women are more likely to have it than men.

A misdiagnosis by a doctor can exacerbate existing conditions or create new ones. Injured parties might have claims for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses and other damages. A lawyer with experience handling medical malpractice claims might be able to help in cases of misdiagnoses by gathering evidence and obtaining the opinions of medical experts.

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