A stroke is a serious medical emergency that can cause life-long health complications, especially if it is not treated immediately. It is of vital importance to be diagnosed as soon as possible to have the best chance at successful rehabilitation. The misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a stroke can have a severe, lasting impact on long-term health prospects of survivors, and could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Here’s what you should know about strokes, including how they are diagnosed, the consequences of misdiagnosis for victims, how you may be able to recover legal damages, and more.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke is the result of an interruption of the blood supply to a portion of the brain. If the interruption was caused by a blockage of a blood vessel (usually by a blood clot), it is called an ischemic stroke. This is the most common type of stroke to occur. Another rarer type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel leaks or bursts in the brain. Both can be fatal, and survivors often face permanent disability. With either type of stroke, years of rehabilitation may be necessary to regain some portion of the lost functionality.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms of a stroke may include:
- Weakness or numbness, especially on just one side of the body or face
- Confusion and difficulty speaking or understanding the words of others
- Difficulty walking, maintaining balance, or loss of coordination
- Sudden impaired vision or blindness in either or both eyes
A suspected stroke is a medical emergency and should be treated as such, as the most effective treatments only work within the first few hours after symptoms begin. Call 911 and seek help immediately.
An event related to a stroke, called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), occurs when there is only a brief interruption of blood flow in a part of the brain. These are often referred to as mini-strokes and may mimic many of the symptoms of a stroke for a short period of time. Suffering a TIA may be a sign of an increased risk of a stroke.
Misdiagnosis of a Stroke
Since the consequences of a missed diagnosis are so grave and fast, treatment is critical to recovery. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are often trained to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. The doctor may engage in a series of tests and questions to determine what is wrong with someone suspected of suffering from a stroke, including:
- A complete physical examination
- A blood pressure check
- A neurological exam
- An angiogram to find damaged or blocked blood vessels in the head or neck
- An ultrasound to examine the carotid arteries for narrowing or blockage
- Other imaging tests, including MRI or CT angiography
The failure to perform the correct diagnostics or failing to correctly interpret the results of a diagnostic screening may mean that the patient has a viable medical malpractice claim against the healthcare provider, if that failure resulted in harm to the patient.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for the Misdiagnosis of a Stroke
In a medical malpractice situation, the injured patient may be able to seek compensation in the form of a damage award. This can include financial recovery for economic damages, such as
- Hospital bills, doctor’s visits, and other medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Loss of income due to time away from work
- Loss of future income from an inability to work
- Future medical expenses related to the injury
A medical malpractice suit may also include recovery for non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, and mental anguish caused by the injury, as well as other costs that are less easy to quantify.
Get Legal Help Today
If you or someone you love has suffered harm due to the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider, contact a personal injury attorney to review your situation. An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you of your legal options.
Wayne Wright LLP has been protecting the rights of patients that have been wrongly injured for decades, and we would like to help you and your family get the justice you deserve in a court of law. For a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.