Stroke Underdiagnosis – Personal Injury – United States

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Despite continuing medical advances, stroke remains one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. In fact, according to the CDC, each year more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. A stroke can cause permanent brain damage, which affects a person’s physical and cognitive functioning and, in some cases, can lead to death.

The injuries caused by stroke are immeasurable and often devastating to patients and their loved ones. Therefore, it is important for clinicians to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of strokes so that these very damages can be prevented or mitigated. When a medical provider fails to realize that a patient is exhibiting stroke-like symptoms, or when the medical provider fails to treat a patient’s stroke in a timely manner, the harm it may cause may be due to medical negligence .

what is a stroke?

A stroke refers to a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, preventing certain areas of the brain from receiving oxygen and nutrients. When that happens, the brain cells will die. If this blockage or rupture is not treated in time, the damage to the brain will be irreversible and this can lead to permanent injury or death.

There are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blockage, or clot, prevents blood and oxygen from flowing to the brain. This is the most common type of stroke. In some cases, the blockage is temporary and resolves on its own, and in those cases, the patient may have experienced something called a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or a “mini-stroke.” When a patient has a “mini-stroke,” it is often an important warning sign that medical providers should properly evaluate to avoid a more serious stroke that can cause permanent impairment or death.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when the blood vessel ruptures, thereby preventing blood flow to the brain. These usually occur when a patient has weakened blood vessels, usually when a patient has an aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation (AVM). These are also more often seen when a patient has uncontrolled high blood pressure.

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

Given the lasting damage a stroke can cause, it’s important for medical staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke so it can be quickly identified and treated. Prompt treatment is important to prevent permanent damage or death.

Classic signs and symptoms of a stroke include:

  • facial drooping or numbness
  • Weakness in one arm or leg on one side
  • slurred or slurred speech
  • sudden confusion
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness, loss of balance, or trouble walking
  • Sudden-onset severe headache with no known cause

Early recognition of these signs and symptoms of stroke is key, as prompt treatment can increase the patient’s chance of survival and decrease the chance of permanent disability.

How is a stroke treated?

Identifying a stroke is half the battle. Once a medical professional suspects a stroke, the health care provider should order diagnostic imaging of the brain (usually a CT scan) to confirm whether the patient’s symptoms are due to a stroke and, if so, what type. of stroke is causing those symptoms. Sometimes a CT scan can’t detect a very recent ischemic stroke. In those cases, a medical provider will either make the diagnosis based on the patient’s symptoms or order further imaging studies, such as an MRI. If a stroke is confirmed, and depending on the type, a medical provider may treat the stroke with different methods, including:

  • Medications, including aspirin and blood thinners
  • A drug to “break up clots” called r-tPA
  • A procedure called a mechanical thrombectomy

The effectiveness of these interventions depends on a number of factors, including when stroke symptoms began, what type of stroke the patient is having, where in the brain the stroke is occurring, and other health conditions of the patient. A medical professional must consider these factors and all the relevant medical facts of the case so that timely treatment can occur to prevent the terrible injuries that a stroke can cause.

What permanent injuries can a stroke cause?

If a stroke is not identified or treated properly and in a timely manner, the patient can unfortunately die or suffer significant brain damage. Brain damage from a stroke can cause a person to become incontinent, have difficulty swallowing or eating, or develop weakness or paralysis. It can also affect a patient’s mental function, including the patient’s memory, the ability to solve simple problems, the ability to see things correctly, or the ability to speak. A stroke can also cause trouble sleeping, depression or feelings of sadness, moodiness, and other emotional disturbances.

Whether the patient died or suffered significant physical and mental injury from a stroke, the consequences can devastate a family. A stroke can prevent a patient from returning to work, place significant burdens on a family due to the loss of a loved one, and cause significant and costly medical care. Therefore, it is important that a medical professional do everything possible to prevent injuries associated with stroke by recognizing its signs and symptoms and treating it promptly and appropriately.

Why do I need a lawyer if I or someone I love has had a stroke?

After you or a loved one has had a stroke, you’re likely looking for answers to questions like “Why did this happen?” “Could this have been prevented?” “Should I have been treated properly?” different?”, “Did you ever get back the function you had before the stroke?” or “Did the doctors and health care providers do all they could?” Many times health care providers do not or will not answer these questions.An experienced medical malpractice attorney has the knowledge and resources to get answers for you and your family at a time when you are suffering physically, emotionally, and financially. And, when health care providers refuse to accept responsibility for the damages they caused, an attorney can hold them accountable so you and your loved ones can get compensation to pay for the medical bills and ongoing care that result from the stroke. Having the assistance of an attorney significantly improves a victim’s chances of obtaining the compensation they need to address injuries caused by medical malpractice.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought according to your specific circumstances.

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