The failure to timely diagnose a stroke at a hospital emergency department can have serious and deadly consequences. The delay in starting necessary treatment can allow the condition to progress and cause permanent damage to the brain. Physicians who miss this diagnosis can be sued for medical malpractice.
It is not uncommon for patients to present to emergency rooms with complaints of severe headaches. Many of these patients even have histories of migraine headaches and medical staff often assumes the current complaint is just another migraine. However, it is imperative that the doctors evaluating these patients consider the diagnosis of a stroke even with the prior medical history.
Too often, patients with migraine histories are discharged from emergency departments with headache medications and not worked up for a possible stroke. The time window to administer TPA or other clot eliminating drugs is very narrow so every minute is important. Any delay in providing treatment can lead to permanent damage and harm.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of a patient having a stroke or an impending stroke include the sudden onset of symptoms, often on one side of the body, such as:
Numbness of the face, arm, or leg
Weakness of the face, arm, or leg
Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
Difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
When a patient presents with any of these symptoms it is necessary that a CT scan or MRI be performed to determine if the patient had a stroke. These radiology studies can identify the location of the stroke, severity of stroke, and type of stroke. Not only must the CT scan be performed, but it must be properly interpreted by a qualified neuroradiologist. An improper interpretation can also delay treatment and result in devastating consequences.
Stroke misdiagnosis malpractice cases are difficult and require handling by an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Doctors and hospitals vigorously defend these lawsuits and argue that the brain damage was not preventable even with timely diagnosis. A powerful advocate will hire top medical experts to prove that timely care and treatment would have prevented serious harm to the patient.
Settlements include compensation for pain and suffering, disability, loss of income, medical expenses, specialized housing, and other needs. In cases involving a stroke death, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These cases often result in sizable settlement payouts.