Could My Stroke Have Been Detected Sooner?

Stroke Diagnosis

Maybe you experienced symptoms, like numbness, vision problems, an extreme, sudden headache, Perhaps a friend or family member noticed that you were slurring your words and insisted you go to the hospital. No matter how you came to seek medical help, you were wise to do so: all of the above are symptoms of a stroke. These symptoms do not always indicate a stroke, but their presence should never be ignored, even if they seem to go away.

If you did your part, and sought medical attention, you should have been able to count on your doctor to diagnose you correctly. In few medical conditions is a prompt diagnosis more important than when someone has had a stroke. You may have heard reference to the “golden hour” following a stroke, the brief window of time during which a clot-busting drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) can be administered. tPA works by dissolving the blood clot. It improves blood flow to the part of the brain which the stroke has deprived of blood flow. Typically, it must be delivered within three hours, sometimes slightly more, in order to be effective and minimize the effects of a stroke.

Stroke is Often Misdiagnosed

Symptoms of a stroke are often misdiagnosed, especially those like headache or dizziness that occur in many other ailments as well as in stroke. Women, minorities, and younger people are among those more likely to be misdiagnosed. The reason for this isn't entirely clear, although it's possible that women may be less likely than men to present with “classic” stroke symptoms; it's also possible that some health care providers are less likely to take women's complaints seriously. And even if a younger person does present with symptoms that indicate a stroke, providers may discount the symptoms because of their age.

In addition, many times, a stroke is preceded by transitory ischemic attacks (TIAs) or “mini-strokes.” Some people seek medical treatment during or after a TIA, only to be diagnosed with a benign condition or to be sent home without a diagnosis at all. A significant number of patients go on within days to have an obvious stroke, which might have been prevented by an alert care provider.

Estimates of stroke misdiagnosis in the United States vary widely, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 15,000 strokes are misdiagnosed in the country each year. Some estimates range to more than ten times that high.

If Your Stroke Was Missed or Misdiagnosed

Because stroke is not always easy to diagnose, a doctor may do everything right and still fail to diagnose a stroke. What is important is that the doctor followed accepted protocols for diagnosing and treating stroke, known as the standard of care. If a doctor or emergency room failed to follow the standard of care, and you or a loved one were injured as a result, that is medical malpractice. An experienced Portland medical malpractice attorney can help you sort out whether your injury was avoidable malpractice.

Stroke can cause both severe and permanent disability, and the law gives you only a limited time to pursue any recovery to which you might be entitled. Failure to file a claim in time means that you can never pursue a recovery, no matter how serious your injury. If you even suspect a doctor, hospital, or emergency room failed to properly diagnose or treat your stroke, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Categories: Medical Malpractice

Blog Disclaimer

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.