Stroke is one of the most common medical misdiagnoses. Unfortunately, it happens all the time. A doctor, often in the emergency room, fails to treat a person who comes in with the symptoms of a stroke. There is a critical time when a stroke must be treated, and an undiagnosed or misdiagnosed stroke can result in catastrophic injuries.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when a vessel in the brain breaks or is blocked by a clot. There are three types of strokes:
- Hemorrhagic Stroke—happens when an aneurysm in the brain bursts or a weakened blood vessel begins to bleed.
- Ischemic Stroke—occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. The majority of strokes are ischemic strokes.
- Embolic Stroke—occurs when a blood clot breaks free and blocks circulation to the brain, depriving it of blood and oxygen
Signs of a stroke include, but are not limited to:
- Severe headache
- Loss of vision
- Drooping face
- Difficulty with speech—understanding, and using
- Weakness or numbness in legs and arms
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Confusion and behavioral changes
Doctors diagnose strokes a number of different ways including blood tests, MRIs, ultrasounds, and CT scans to examine the brain.
A Johns Hopkins University study found that in 13% of the stroke cases studied, individuals who had been admitted to the hospital with a stroke had gone to the hospital within 30 days prior with stroke symptoms and had been sent home. Even in the emergency room, doctors are expected to follow the appropriate standard of care. Physicians in the ER may be in a hurry and not take the proper time with a patient or fail to order the correct diagnostic testing. Medical professionals can misdiagnose strokes as anything from migraine headaches to intoxication.
Early stroke treatment means better recovery. Medications such as clot-busting drugs need to be administered as soon as possible to be the most effective. Hemorrhagic strokes often require immediate surgery.
Who is More Likely to be Misdiagnosed?
In the Johns Hopkins study, it was found that physicians are 30% more likely to misdiagnose a stroke in women and minorities. Individuals under the age of 45 are also misdiagnosed more frequently. Strokes can be experienced by anyone, even young children, so doctors should take the presentation of stroke symptoms very seriously.
If you’ve suffered from a medical misdiagnosis, you should have a personal injury attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping New Yorkers injured by medical malpractice. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.