As a life-threatening medical emergency, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in America. Without quick recognition and treatment, strokes can result in permanent disability or death.

Types of Strokes

Strokes are medical emergencies that occur when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or reduced. Without blood, brain cells don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients to function, suffering permanent damage or even cell death. Major strokes can be broken down into two categories: hemorrhagic and ischemic.

Hemorrhagic Stroke:

A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain from a burst blood vessel—pressure in the brain increases, reducing the ability of brain cells to function. High blood pressure or an aneurysm are common causes of hemorrhagic stroke.

Ischemic Stroke:

These strokes happen when a clot blocks blood flow through blood vessels in the brain. Certain heart conditions, smoking, and high cholesterol can put you and your loved ones at an increased risk of suffering an ischemic stroke.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA):

This isn’t a stroke, but it is a warning sign that the victim’s future risk of stroke is significantly increased. A transient ischemic attack results from a temporary blockage of blood vessels in the brain, usually no more than five minutes. Patients suffering from a TIA have the same symptoms as a stroke, but these quickly resolve once the blockage is cleared by the continuous pumping of blood.

Stokes Require Fast Action

Your brain is your body’s most important organ. Every second your brain suffers from decreased blood supply, potentially irreversible damage is occurring. Strokes can happen anywhere and at any time. Early recognition of stroke symptoms and quick response to get the appropriate medical treatment is critical for any patient potentially suffering from a stroke.

Treatment for an ischemic stroke involves giving medication directly into the vein to break down the clot in the patient’s brain. For this medication to be effective, it must be given close to when the clot started blocking the brain’s blood vessels.

Emergency rooms and healthcare facilities treating patients for stroke must identify when the onset of stroke symptoms occurred. This is often referred to as the last known normal time. For most patients, the symptoms of stroke need to be recognized within three hours to be treated.

Hemorrhagic stroke requires surgical intervention and a skilled neurology team to manage ongoing care. Patients suffering from hemorrhagic stroke need to be quickly identified and transferred to a qualified medical facility to prevent irreversible damage.

Delayed or Misdiagnosed Stroke

Because they are suffering a medical emergency that significantly affects the brain, and thus their ability to communicate what’s happening to them, stroke patients rely on the people around them to recognize the symptoms and seek appropriate medical care. When patients live at home, they must trust family members and friends to recognize the sudden changes associated with stroke and seek the best medical care.

However, strokes happen everywhere. Patients living in a nursing home or being treated at a hospital rely on the healthcare team to quickly and accurately recognize stroke symptoms. Care schedules and shift changes may result in significant periods where patients are left alone with no one around to recognize the onset of stroke.

If too much time has passed between the onset of symptoms, or healthcare facilities cannot determine when the stroke started, patients may be ineligible for treatment. Without treatment, irreversible brain damage will occur. These stroke victims will have a long recovery ahead of them and may never regain full function.

Healthcare facilities misdiagnose as many as 22% of strokes. That’s more than 1 in every 5 stroke victims. When symptoms are misinterpreted, healthcare providers waste critical time pursuing treatment options for the wrong medical condition. By the time the patient is appropriately diagnosed with a stroke, permanent damage may have occurred.

Lasting Effects of Stroke Misdiagnosis

Stroke misdiagnosis has lasting effects on the patient and their family members. Depending on what area of the brain was affected by the stroke, patients may suffer severe physical deficits, making eating, walking, and talking difficult. In the most severe cases, stroke misdiagnosis can be fatal.

Early and accurate identification of stroke symptoms is important in every healthcare facility and nursing home. When substandard care, delayed recognition, or misdiagnosis cause irreversible damage, it might be a case of medical malpractice.

Everyone deserves the best chance of recovery from a stroke. If you or a loved one have suffered from delayed treatment or stroke misdiagnosis, our Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers can advise you if you are entitled to compensation.

Your Trusted Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The experienced attorneys at Wagner Reese understand what you’re going through. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of medical malpractice get the maximum compensation they deserve. While you handle the recovery process, we’ll investigate your case and defend your right to compensation in court. Call our law office for a free consultation today.