The results of a study that was conducted in 2009, which monitored diagnosis of stroke cases in young adults, showed incidences of misdiagnosis by emergency department medical teams. Of the 57 stroke patients, aged 16 to 50, rushed to emergency rooms, eight were incorrectly diagnosed with a range of conditions that included migraine headache, inner ear disorder, vertigo, seizure, and even alcohol intoxication. Of course they were a few hours later correctly diagnosed with a stroke, but only after having been sent home and later rushed back to the hospital, but with their condition only having gotten worse.
According to the American Stroke Association, the annual number of stroke cases in the US is around half a million; about 200,000 of these attacks have disabling effects, while one third is fatal. Stroke is ranked as the third cause of death and the number one cause of disability in the US. Its typical victims are aged 55 or older; thus, those under 45 years old who are rushed to hospitals seldom get the correct diagnosis despite its revealing symptoms, which include sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arms or legs, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness, difficulty speaking, difficulty seeing either from one or both eyes, and severe headache.
A stroke, also called Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA), is a result of the cessation of blood flow to areas of the brain. One of its known causes is blood clot in the blood vessels due to cholesterol plaque. Some patients experience a warning or mini stroke, known as Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), before having a
major or large one; TIA usually lasts for 20 minutes since the flow of blood resumes after an attack.
Immediately recognizing the signs of stroke can prevent the onset of its effects, which include nerve damage, permanent brain damage or, worst, patient death. Thus far, the only government-approved drug treatment for this debilitating or deadly attack is the tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, which is a clot-busting drug; however, it should be taken by the patient within three hours after symptoms start.
A stroke can permanently alter a person’s (and his/her family’s) life; this is why it’s getting diagnosed early is very critical. Sadly, however, so many individuals are never saved from its disabling or fatal effect due to a doctor’s or healthcare provider’s failure to correctly interpret its symptoms, turning a supposedly preventable attack into a painful experience that can result to disability or wrongful death.
There are various reasons given, explaining why doctors, sometimes, fail to make the correct diagnosis, like failing to pay attention to a patient while describing his/her medical condition, not spending enough time with one patient (to understand more his/her health complaints) due to the large number of other patients needing consultation, failure to require a patient to undergo necessary tests, ignoring warning signs or revealing symptoms, and a simple error in judgment.
A medical malpractice lawyer will likely explain that incorrect diagnosis or misdiagnosis resulting to stroke which, in turn, leads to a patient’s disability or untimely/wrongful death is just one of the many medical errors committed by doctors and other healthcare providers. Any lawyer would also agree that doctors who fail to provide their patients with the standard quality of care expected of them do not only violate their oath to preserve and care for human life but also violate the trust that patients give them. Thus, under the law, patients who suffer preventable harm or injuries due to doctors’ mistakes have the legal right to pursue legal action in order to bring erring doctors to justice as well as to seek compensation for whatever damages they are, and will be, made to suffer.