Stroke is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer in the United States. More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the United States. Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke.
There are two kinds of stroke. The most common is an ischemic stroke which occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked. This is usually caused by a blood clot or a narrowed or closed artery. Blood clots can develop for many different reasons. People who have recently had any type of invasive surgery are at risk of developing blood clots. It can also be a hereditary condition. Several other risk factors exist that should alert an emergency room physician that a stroke should be suspected. In either case, blood clots can be avoided with proper diagnosis and medication.
When an ischemic stroke occurs, time is of the essence. If a blood clot is not treated right away, anoxic brain injury can take place, which can then lead to irreversible mental, physical, emotional, or behavioral disability. An ischemic stroke can be treated if it is diagnosed properly. However, if hours are allowed to pass before treatment is administered, the likelihood of brain damage and death occurring is raised significantly.
The other stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke. These occur when a blood vessel bursts and causes bleeding in the brain. The effective treatment for this type of stroke is very different than the treatment for ischemic stroke. Diagnosing and treating the wrong type of stroke can lead to further injury.
Symptoms of stroke may also present as symptoms of other illnesses or diseases a patient may also have and include:
1) Slurred speech
3) Difficulty swallowing
4) Balance problems
5) Double vision
Small strokes can also occur. Sometimes a person might experience symptoms from a period of reduced blood flow to the brain, but that resolves itself before damage is done, often without leaving a trace. These temporary effects of reduced blood flow are called “transient ischemic attacks” or TIAs and are sometimes called “mini strokes.” These “mini strokes” may last less than twenty minutes and might end before a person with symptoms can get to a doctor, and are typically unable to be detected on a CAT scan or MRI. While relatively benign on their own, a person suffering such temporary, less serious events has an increased risk for stroke for the next 48 hours.
Medical imaging technology and other diagnostic tools have made it possible for early detection and treatment to help prevent stroke. However, in many cases a stroke gets misdiagnosed or is diagnosed too late. Some specific examples of malpractice include:
1) Failure to diagnose the possibility of a stroke by conducting proper tests to recognize blockage by blood clots;
2) Misdiagnosis of stroke as another medical condition and subsequent failure to properly treat;
3) Failure to provide anti-coagulation treatment to people with atrial fibrillation or similar indicators of preventable strokes;
4) Mistreatment during surgery leading to hypotension, which then leads to a stroke; and
5) Failure to timely provide TPA to a patient suffering from a stroke.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in these claims and can help you understand your legal options and answer your questions at 215-568-6800.