Misdiagnosis and Improperly Treated Strokes Can Lead to Catastrophic Consequences for Patients
Strokes are one of the leading causes of deaths. With the availability of medical imaging technology and other diagnostic tools, strokes can be quickly detected and treated early so that the patients do not suffer such serious consequences from their strokes. Unfortunately, strokes are often misdiagnosed, diagnosed too late, or mistreated due to medical malpractice. Patients are the true victims when this occurs because strokes can cause debilitating permanent physical, mental, and emotional disabilities that can limit their abilities to walk, talk, drive, think and reason, or cause their death.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is stopped. If it lasts for longer than a few seconds, the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen and brain cells die—sometimes causing permanent damage. There are two types of strokes:
- Ischemic stroke. This is the most common type of stroke. It happens when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain and is often due to plaque build-up from cholesterol, fat, or another substance. People who have high blood pressure can have their plaque build up even faster and are at a higher risk of having a stroke.
- Hemorrhagic stroke. With this type of stroke, a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and leaks blood into the person’s brain tissue. It is caused by the weakening and breaking of blood vessel walls by high blood pressure or when an aneurysm ruptures.
How Doctors Commit Malpractice in the Treatment of Strokes
People often start out experiencing a transient ischemic stroke—also known as a mini-stroke—where the blood flow to the brain is only temporarily stopped. A person would be at high risk for a future stroke, and his doctor should discuss lifestyle and medications that could reduce the person’s risks of this happening.
Doctors must also be aware of other risk factors a patient may have and recommend medications and lifestyle changes. Some of these risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, being overweight, heavy alcohol consumption, and a family history of strokes.
To ensure a patient receives prompt treatment, a doctor must understand the symptoms of stroke. Some of these include:
- Numbness or weakness on one side of the body or in the arms, legs, or face
- Impaired speech
- Problems with vision
- Feeling dizzy or having trouble with coordination or walking
- Sudden painful headache
To diagnose a stroke correctly, doctors need to take a complete medical history, perform a thorough examination of the patient, and order tests like an MRI or CT scan. Common ways doctors commit malpractice in the diagnosis and treatment of strokes includes:
- Failing to take a medical history from the patient or his family
- Failing to perform a thorough physical exam
- Failing to order necessary tests
- Misinterpreting test results or not reviewing them
- Misdiagnosing a stroke for another medical condition
- Failing to recognize stroke symptoms in patients who otherwise appear healthy
- Failing to prescribe blood thinning or anti-coagulation medications for the patient
- Improperly performing a surgery that leads to dangerously low blood pressure that triggers a stroke
- Failing to administer tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)—an approved clot-busting drug that can stop the progression of a stroke if given at the first signs of symptoms
If a you or family member suffered a stroke and believe your doctor may have committed malpractice, call me at 888.716.8021 for a free consultation to learn how I can assist you.