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Can You File A Lawsuit For A Failure To Diagnose A Stroke?

Newsome Melton helps injured patients hold doctors and healthcare providers liable if they caused or contributed to injuries related to inadequate or substandard care. We can review your case and help you file a lawsuit for a failure to diagnose a stroke.

In the medical malpractice realm, one of the most frequent types of cases we see is a failure to diagnose strokes. Like many catastrophic medical conditions, stroke treatment is most successful with early detection. Patients with competent, diligent doctors who immediately recognize a stroke can receive early intervention that can lead to a full recovery or at least keep the adverse effects from becoming much worse.

But a doctor or healthcare professional who fails to recognize the signs of a stroke may exacerbate the effects of the stroke. If you believe you have a medical malpractice case related to failure to diagnose stroke, please call Newsome Melton at 888-808-5977.

Stroke Facts

According to the National Institute of Health:

  • A stroke is fatal in 10 to 20 percent of cases.
  • At some point after age 65, one in six Americans will experience a stroke.
  • Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States (trailing only heart disease and cancer).
  • Strokes are also a leading cause of disability, including loss of mobility, loss of speech, and cognitive problems.
  • There are three types of strokes. Ischemic strokes occur due to a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, leaking blood into the surrounding tissue. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a “mini stroke.”

Why Do Doctors Misdiagnose Strokes?

When a doctor fails to diagnose a stroke and thus the patient receives no antidote or treatment, the consequences can be catastrophic or even fatal.

The warning signs and symptoms of a stroke include the following:

  • Numbness, weakness, or tingling in the extremities, hands, or face, particularly if confined to one side of the body
  • Impaired or slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • A sudden, severe headache

For doctors, the challenge lies in the fact that strokes affect the brain, causing many patients to lose the ability to clearly and accurately communicate what is wrong. Accordingly, doctors must rely on their own knowledge, skill, and powers of observation to recognize when a patient might be having a stroke. In fact, mental confusion to the point of incoherence when asked to describe one’s symptoms should be a major clue.

If a physician fails to discover that a patient is having or has had a stroke, it is often due to one or more failures in the diagnostic process:

  • The doctor failed to screen the patient’s medical history. Many patients have risk factors that point to a high likelihood of a stroke, such as smoking, heart disease, high blood pressure, and — especially — previous strokes or mini-strokes.
  • The doctor failed to perform an adequate physical examination. A thorough evaluation of a patient’s physical condition should alert a physician to many signs and symptoms consistent with a stroke.
  • The doctor failed to order necessary lab tests or misinterpreted the results.

When a stroke happens, minutes matter. Several million brain cells die each minute during a stroke, so even the slightest delay in diagnosis can have lifelong consequences for the patient. For ischemic strokes, the first three hours are critical; the introduction of a drug called tPA during this window can dissolve the blood clot and significantly improve the patient’s chance of a full recovery. Patients who miss this window because their doctor misdiagnosed them have a higher chance of dying or suffering severe, lifelong disability.

How Can One Prove That a Doctor Who Failed to Diagnose a Stroke Is Liable for Medical Malpractice?

Not all cases of failure to diagnose a stroke amount to medical malpractice. The litmus test is whether another reasonable doctor presented with the same information and circumstances would have made the correct diagnosis.

If the answer to that question is yes, then the physician who failed to diagnose a stroke may be liable for medical malpractice.

Collecting Evidence and Reaching a Settlement in a Stroke Case

To demonstrate that another doctor acting more diligently would have made the diagnosis may require interviewing expert witnesses, such as experts in the medical community, and providing evidence such as the patient’s medical history, medical records, and history of care.

We will negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If the settlement offer is insufficient to cover all damages, we may take the case to trial. Your attorney can help you decide whether to accept an out-of-court settlement offer or go to trial to pursue fair compensation.

Call 888-808-5977 for a Free Medical Malpractice Attorney Consultation

If you or your loved one believe you have a case and want to file a lawsuit for a failure to diagnose a stroke, consult a medical malpractice attorney at Newsome Melton to review your case. Call 888-808-5977 for a free consultation.

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