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The impact of misdiagnosing Bell's palsy as acute stroke

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Gregory, Rosalind 
Khadjooi, Kayvan 


Idiopathic Bell’s Palsy (BP) can lead to a serious, and sometimes permanently disfiguring and emotionally challenging facial palsy. Early diagnosis and treatment with corticosteroids are vital, as it has shown to significantly improve recovery rates. BP is a benign condition that should be diagnosed and managed in primary care. Patients who self-present to the emergency department should be managed and discharged without the need for admission. In this study, we looked at all patients referred urgently to our hospital with facial weakness and discharged with diagnosis of BP, to explore whether clinicians were confident in making diagnoses of BP at initial assessment, and if not, how often they sought a specialist opinion. Furthermore, we assessed the impact of over-investigation and mis-treatment of this condition on healthcare resources and the patients.



Acute stroke, Bell’s palsy, facial nerve, over-investigation, resources, Adult, Aged, Bell Palsy, Diagnostic Errors, Facial Nerve, Facial Paralysis, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Retrospective Studies, Stroke, United Kingdom

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Clinical Medicine

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Royal College of Physicians


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British Heart Foundation (None)
II would like to thank the Cambridge British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence for supporting his work through a Clinical Research Training Fellowship.