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Filing a Lawsuit for a Misdiagnosed Stroke

Misdiagnosis of stroke and mismanagement of strokes are common medical mistakes in emergency rooms nationwide and often result in devastating consequences for the patient and their family. The National Institute of Health reports that a stroke is fatal in 10 to 20 percent of cases, and those who survive a stroke may have brain damage, loss of mobility, and impaired speech, among other disabilities. Prompt diagnosis and treatment for stroke minimize these risks.

Where medical professionals have not met their standard of care and have been negligent in failing to diagnose or treat a stroke timely, the medical malpractice lawyers at Villari Law help those who have suffered permanent injuries and those who have lost loved ones recover monetary damages. Call us if you believe you or a loved one might have been a victim of negligent diagnosis of stroke or treatment for stroke.

What is a Stroke?

“Stroke” is the term used to describe an interruption in blood flow to the brain, which may occur due to a blood clot or due to bleeding in the brain. Someone suffering from a stroke may exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Mental confusion or incoherence
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Impaired vision
  • Impaired or slurred speech
  • Imbalance
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness of muscles or limbs on one side of the body

There are three types of strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes, also called bleeding strokes, often cause severe headaches, and if diagnosed swiftly can be treated surgically with minimal lasting effects if any.

Ischemic strokes, also called clot strokes or “brain attacks,” are the most common form of stroke and must be diagnosed and treated within three to four hours from the time the patient first experiences symptoms in order to prevent irreversible results. Typically the patient will have a CT scan to determine whether the patient is having an ischemic stroke. The patient may then be administered a tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator which can help the blood clot dissipate.

Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA), also called  “mini-strokes,” have symptoms that usually resolve within 1 to 24 hours. Doctors should consider TIAs both a warning and an opportunity for intervention, as victims of TIAs are at greater risk for another stroke within the following 90 days. Doctors can reduce this risk by prescribing medication to lower blood pressure or to inhibit blood clotting.

How Are Strokes Misdiagnosed?

Unfortunately, because there is a brief window to diagnose and treat both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, opportunities to successfully treat a victim of stroke can be missed or lost. Failure to order a CRT scan, failure to act within the three-hour window, and failure to recognize the seriousness of a stroke victim’s symptoms are common examples of doctors’ negligence.

Other conditions may mimic stroke symptoms, such as hypoglycemia, seizures, and brain tumors. Medical professionals must be able to tell the difference between symptoms of a stroke and these conditions, and if they do not, resulting in misdiagnosis of stroke, mistreatment for stroke, or delay in treatment for stroke leading to permanent brain injury or even death, those doctors may be liable to the patient or the patient’s family for their negligence.

At Villari Law, we have filed many medical malpractice lawsuits for stroke misdiagnosis and mistreatment of stroke. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.

Misdiagnosing Stroke Lawsuits

A victim of misdiagnosis of stroke, mistreatment for stroke, or delay in treatment for stroke may suffer long-term disability or death. They or their loved ones may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit based on the doctors’ negligence.

Failure to Prevent a Stroke Malpractice

Primary care doctors should be on alert for conditions and illnesses that make a patient high-risk for stroke. These include

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Obesity
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Atrial fibrillation (AF)
  • Heart failure
  • Stenosis
  • Heart attack
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cerebral amyloid Angiopathy (CAA)

Failure to Treat a Stroke Malpractice

Doctors who fail to recognize and treat a patient for stroke, breaching their standard of care, often

  • Downplay serious neurologic symptoms;
  • Wait too long to order a CT scan or an MRI;
  • Ascribe stroke symptoms to another illness or condition, causing a delay in treatment;
  • Fail to screen a patient’s medical history or to recognize that the patient has one or more risk factors for stroke;
  • Misinterpret the results of any lab tests ordered;
  • Fail to employ immediate treatment to prevent worsening of damage due to stroke, such as antiplatelet medication and blood pressure and blood glucose control medication.

Emergency room doctors should treat a patient presenting any possible stroke symptoms for stroke, as the standard of care is to treat for the most serious possible illness, injury, or condition. When they do not, and the patient suffers lasting injuries or dies, those doctors may be held liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Neonatal Strokes Malpractice

Stroke is often associated with aging. However, the risk of stroke in childhood is highest during the perinatal period, which is the last few months of fetal development and the first few weeks following birth.

Because the risk of childhood stroke is relatively low, doctors and parents often attribute symptoms of stroke to something else, leading to a delay in stroke diagnosis and irreparable damage or death.

Risk factors for perinatal stroke include:

  • Congenital heart abnormalities
  • Head trauma
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Premature birth
  • Maternal infections
  • Maternal drug use
  • Maternal autoimmune disease and preeclampsi

Doctors should take any of these factors into consideration when assessing symptoms and determining a fetus’ or an infant’s risk of suffering a stroke. Hypoxia, or loss of oxygen, is a common cause of neonatal stroke. A doctor or midwife failing to recognize the symptoms of hypoxia may provide cause for a birth injury lawsuit.

Fortunately, the developing brain has a remarkable capacity to heal from stroke, and children suffering stroke at the perinatal stage have been known to recover when receiving proper and timely treatment. If treatment is delayed or withheld due to stroke misdiagnosis, a child may develop cerebral palsy or other permanent disability.

Determining Medical Malpractice

If a doctor failed to diagnose or treat a stroke, that alone is not medical malpractice. A judge will have to determine whether another reasonable doctor in their position having the same information would have correctly diagnosed or treated the stroke patient.

Evidence of Malpractice

In addition to the medical record, including the victim’s medical history and history of medical care for stroke and any other conditions, expert witnesses will show whether the doctor failed to adhere to the applicable standard of care.

If the evidence is strong, the doctor’s medical malpractice insurance company may offer you a monetary settlement. Often this settlement offer is too low. We help victims of stroke and their families determine whether to accept a settlement offer or go to trial.

Contact The Villari Firm for Your Stroke Misdiagnosis Claim

Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can help you and your family recover compensation for a doctor’s negligence in misdiagnosing stroke or failing to treat for stroke. We are available to discuss your case and can meet with you in either of our offices conveniently located in Camden, NJ and in Philadelphia.

Misdiagnosed Stroke Lawsuit FAQs

Can You Sue a Hospital for a Stroke?

Yes, if there are grounds for medical malpractice. The hospital itself as well as the doctors and other medical personnel are named in the lawsuit when negligent medical treatment is alleged.

Is It Hard to Prove Malpractice for a Stroke?

It can be difficult to prove that a doctor negligently misdiagnosed a stroke or negligently failed to treat a stroke. There are many illnesses and conditions that cause symptoms similar to stroke symptoms, and if a patient has no history of stroke or has none of the risk factors for stroke, it may be difficult to show that the doctor was negligent.

We use expert witnesses to assess the circumstances and help us determine whether the doctor breached their standard of care in misdiagnosing a stroke, failing to treat a stroke, or failing to prevent a stroke. In all of our cases we thoroughly investigate and determine whether it is possible that the doctor failed to follow protocol and breached their duty of care to our client.

How Are Stroke Malpractice Settlements Calculated?

Stroke malpractice settlements range from the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars because the damage suffered by the victim can be so severe. A medical malpractice settlement or judgment will provide for past, current, and future medical expenses and continuing care if necessary, and pain and suffering or wrongful death if the stroke victim died.

 

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