A study by John Hopkins University has shown that misdiagnosis of strokes may account for 40,000-80,000 preventable deaths every year in the United States. Physician-reported errors and closed malpractice claims show that stroke is among the most common dangerous missed diagnoses.
There are a variety of symptoms associated with the first signs of a stroke, including:
- Slurred words
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face or limbs, particularly down one side
- Impaired vision
- Severe headache
- Loss of coordination
If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, the American Stroke Association advises people to think “FAST.” This acronym stands for checking the Face, Arms, Speech, and acting in Time. Acting on the first signs of a stroke can make a significant difference to a person’s recovery.
Medical professionals are trained to recognize the symptoms of strokes. However, there are occasions when hospital staff fail to notice them, perhaps because of the high-pressure environment of the emergency room, or they may misdiagnose based on the early symptoms, or mistake the symptoms for something else. According to John Hopkins University, women, minorities, and young people are among the highest risk for stroke misdiagnosis.
There are three main types of stroke:
- Ischemic, which is when a blocked artery disrupts the flow of blood to the brain.
- Hemorrhagic, caused by a leaking blood vessel in the brain.
- Transient ischemic attacks (TIA), which are temporary (less than 5 minutes) disruptions of blood to the brain. These are often called mini-strokes.
In assessing a medical malpractice claim, it is important to understand the type of stroke the patient has experienced. Most of these types of claims are related to delay in treating an ischemic stroke. Your medical malpractice lawyer can guide you through this complex situation.
If you suspect your loved one suffered as a result of a delayed diagnosis of their stroke, your family may be owed compensation for your medical expenses and more.
A person’s risk of having a stroke can be affected by a variety of factors, such as:
- Being overweight
- Heavy drinking
- Drug abuse
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea
What Causes Stroke Misdiagnosis?
Most cases of stroke misdiagnosis occur in the emergency room. In the ER, stroke cases may be misdiagnosed because patients present with mild, transient, or non-specific symptoms, like a headache. However, there are other common causes of missed or delayed diagnosis in an emergency room related to medical negligence which include:
- Failure to recognize stroke symptoms
- Failure to complete a proper physical examination
- Failure to review the patient’s medical history
- Failure to order diagnostic tests such as an MRI or CT scan
- Failure to make sure equipment is working properly
- Failure to correctly read test results
- Failure to act promptly
- Failure to communicate with the patient or other health professionals
Early detection is critical, so an incorrect diagnosis in the emergency room can cause delays in treatment and other procedures. This may cause additional harm to the patient. When strokes aren’t treated quickly or correctly, it could cause permanent injury or even death.
If a member of your family has suffered from a stroke misdiagnosis, contact the skilled Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers at Wagner Reese.
There are many factors to prove in medical malpractice claims for stroke misdiagnosis. It may be necessary to prove that if the stroke was diagnosed promptly, treatment would have made a difference to the outcome.
For example, some patients who suffer from ischemic strokes can benefit from medication known as tissue plasminogen activator. This treatment typically needs to be administered within 3-4 hours of the stroke to be effective. Some victims do not get to the emergency room in time to receive it. But if they did get to the emergency room in time, but the medical professionals on staff failed to correctly diagnosis the stroke, negligence may be at fault.
That is why it is essential to have an expert review whether there was negligence and if the treatment would have made any difference. The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Wagner Reese can help you understand how negligence is assessed and whether you have a claim for malpractice.
The cost for treatment of a stroke can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. This can climb even higher if misdiagnosis has led to more, and permanent, damage.
Depending on the circumstances, you may claim compensation for:
- Medical bills, including future medical costs
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Lost earning capacity, if the stroke victim is unable to return to their previous work
Indiana medical malpractice claims can be complicated, and there are strict time limits on how long you have to file a claim in order to be eligible for compensation. It is advisable to seek legal advice early so that you understand your and your family’s options for compensation.
At Wagner Reese, our compassionate medical malpractice lawyers can guide you through the complex process to pursue compensation for a stroke misdiagnosis. We can review your claim for free with no obligation. Call us today!