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How Does Stroke Misdiagnosis Occur?

How Does Stroke Misdiagnosis Occur?


Medically, a stroke is defined as a sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen. When a stroke occurs, blood flow to the brain is interrupted. This results in abnormal functioning of the brain. The cause of a stroke is usually an artery that ruptures or a block to the vessels in the brain.

This article provides detailed insight on preventing stroke misdiagnosis.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke misdiagnosis means that a medical professional was unable to recognize a stroke while it’s occurring or with enough time shortly after the stroke to provide proper treatment. Misdiagnosis also occurs when medical professionals such as nurses fail to recognize the signs of an impending stroke. Thorough medical history of a patient, physical exam, and ultrasounds of the carotid artery help to give doctors a better picture of impending stroke. However, medical intervention must be quick. Missing the signs of a stroke can result in permanent brain damage and fatalities.

What are the consequences of an undiagnosed stroke?

In a misdiagnosed stroke, severe damage can occur if the event is left untreated. The following are several symptoms of irreversible stroke damage:

  • Seizures
  • Paralysis (often only on one side)
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Further brain injury (TBI)
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Changes in mood or behavior

What is a “Transient Ischemic Attack”?

When a patient suffers a “TIA”, or “Transient Ischemic Attack”, they may experience stroke symptoms. However, the symptoms are temporary. These symptoms are known as being “transient”. Ischemic Attacks are important to understand; they’re a warning sign a stroke may occur within a short time. When a patient suffers a stroke, time is of the essence. Getting the patient to the hospital quickly at the onset of a stroke means treatment is available to stop the damage from progressing. With enough time, stroke damage may even be able to be reversed.

Is having a stroke preventable?

It’s possible that with enough time, stroke damage is not permanent. However, treating and detecting a stroke means recognizing the warning signs. Warning signs can include a TIA, however, they don’t always. Furthermore, medical professionals should take a complete medical history of the patient to best evaluate stroke risk. Also, for patients that are at risk, performing a preemptive ultrasound of the arteries gives doctors a better idea of whether the patient requires monitoring.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

Believe it or not, a stroke can happen to anyone. Also, even if a person believes he or she isn’t a candidate for a stroke, they should never ignore the warning signs:

  • Change of vision
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty forming words
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Loss of strength in the legs (sudden onset)
  • Tingling in the limbs
  • Numbness or paralysis on one side (hemisphere) of the body
  • Fainting

What is misdiagnosis?

Stroke injuries cause sudden medical trauma. After trauma, sometimes families are left with medical expenses they can’t afford.

Misdiagnosis comes with expenses that cause a family financial stress. These expenses include rehabilitation, long term care, and burial expenses. The latter expense can be considerably traumatic. Further compensation may be available if a wrongful death was the result of a stroke misdiagnosis.

Compensation after misdiagnosis

Medical errors are usually responsible for misdiagnosis of a stroke. This medical negligence includes the following scenarios:

  • Missing stroke symptoms in otherwise healthy patients
  • Ignoring stroke symptoms in younger patients
  • Failure to order tests necessary to diagnose a stroke or TIA
  • Delaying stroke diagnosis testing
  • Lab errors
  • Error in the reading of imaging studies

It’s important for families dealing with a stroke misdiagnosis to seek a lawyer with medical malpractice experience. Medical malpractice lawyers assist misdiagnosis victims in seeking maximum compensation for their injuries. They’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of cases to verdict during trial, and receive multi million dollar settlements.

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