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Stroke Misdiagnosis

How do strokes occur?

Stroke is defined as the sudden death of brain cells due to a lack of oxygen. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, resulting in abnormal brain function. It is caused by blockage or rupture of an artery to the brain.

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States. Failure to diagnose stroke can mean the failure to recognize a stroke immediately after or while it is occurring, or overlooking signs of an impending stroke. The best way to avoid permanent disability or death from stroke is to avoid it altogether. Careful review of a patient’s history, a detailed physical exam, and ultrasound of the carotid arteries or angiograms (radiology study of the arteries) can help provide an accurate diagnosis of impending stroke. In this way, many strokes can be prevented.

In a Transient Ischemic Attack (“TIA”), a patient has stroke like symptoms but by definition these symptoms are only temporary (transient). The occurrence of a TIA can be a very important warning sign because they often occur before a full-blown stroke takes place. TIA’s typically only last about 10 to 20 minutes, but prompt diagnosis and treatment can prevent a more serious, life-threatening stroke from occurring. Once a stroke has occurred time is of the essence. Timely treatment can stop the damage from progressing and can even reverse damage. Undiagnosed stroke or misdiagnosed stroke means delayed treatment or no treatment at all. This allows brain cell death to continue, and can quickly escalate to preventable permanent brain injury or death.

Consequences of undiagnosed stroke or misdiagnosed stroke can include:

  • Brain injury
  • More severe stroke
  • Paralysis, often on one side of the body
  • Seizures
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty speaking and/or understanding words
  • Difficulty reading and writing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain
  • Behavioral changes
  • Depression
  • Death

Symptoms of Stroke

Even if you are not a likely candidate for a stroke, the following symptoms should be taken seriously and the proper tests and actions should be taken right away to prevent further harm:

  • Weakness, heaviness, numbness, or paralysis (usually on one side of the body)
  • Weakness or tingling in a limb
  • Sudden loss of strength in the legs
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness, loss of balance, loss of coordination
  • Difficulty speaking or finding words
  • Difficulty understanding speech
  • Confusion
  • Loss of vision
  • Change of vision, such as dimness, blurriness, or double vision
  • Fainting

Can damage from a stroke be prevented?

Yes, sometimes damage from a stroke can be predicted or prevented by proper and timely medical treatment. Doctors and health care professionals can detect an imminent stroke, or properly diagnose and treat a stroke by:

  • Recognizing the warning signs, including a Transient Ischemic Attack (“TIA“) or “mini-stroke”
  • Taking a proper and thorough patient history
  • Conducting a detailed physical exam
  • Avoiding an improper conclusion regarding the patient’s presentation by carefully adhering to established protocols
  • Performing an ultrasound of the carotid arteries or angiograms (radiology study of the arteries)
  • Administering the appropriate treatment, often including blood thinners

Compensation for Medically Preventable Strokes

Damage from stroke is often medically preventable due to errors committed by medical providers. Some examples of these medical mistakes are:

  • Laboratory error
  • Improper reading of tests
  • Failure to consult neurological specialists in a timely manner
  • Delay in performing testing for stroke and treatment of stroke
  • Failure to take a proper and thorough medical history
  • Delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, or failure to diagnose stroke
  • Failure to perform a thorough physical examination
  • Failure to order necessary tests in a timely and emergent manner
  • Failure to consider stroke in younger patients
  • Failure to consider stroke in patients that seem healthy

What To Do After a Stroke Misdiagnosis

Injury from stroke can cause sudden physical, emotional, and financial hardships for patients and their families. During this time, it is difficult to think about seeking legal help, but there are time limits for taking legal action. In addition, in many cases you will need the compensation that you deserve as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one has experienced serious injury or death which you believe may have been due to the failure to prevent stroke, or the failure to timely diagnose or treat stroke, you may be entitled to compensation including:

  • Long-term care expenses
  • Rehabilitation
  • Pain and suffering
  • Current and future loss of wages
  • Current and future medical bills
  • Loss of companionship
  • Long-term disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Burial expenses

For More information on Stroke Diagnosis, please visit our Stroke Diagnosis Frequently Asked Questions page.

Collectively, New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers Michael L. Weiss, Esq. & Robert E. Paarz, Esq. have presented over 20 medical malpractice cases relating to stroke misdiagnosis to juries and have helped many families achieve substantial financial recoveries. They are committed to using their knowledge and experience to help any individual or family who has suffered a severe, permanent injury or death due to medical malpractice to obtain fair compensation. If you believe you or a loved one may have experienced such an injury, please contact Weiss & Paarz, P.C., today.

*The firm handles cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For cases outside those states, Weiss & Paarz works with local attorneys in the state where the medical care took place, at no additional cost to the client.