While other conditions may cause doctors to dismiss a person’s immediate symptoms, doctors are responsible for providing all patients with the appropriate standard of care. Emergency room doctors and physicians must consider all potential causes of a person’s symptoms, including stroke.
Failure to make the appropriate diagnosis can lead to severe repercussions. In the case of a stroke, every minute that goes by results in damage to brain cells. The more brain damage occurs, the more likely the person will be unable to recover fully from the stroke.
If you or a loved one suffered a stroke that a physician or emergency room doctor failed to treat adequately, you might have a claim for medical malpractice. Contact a medical malpractice attorney to determine whether you may be eligible for financial compensation.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke is a severe medical emergency that needs immediate attention from a physician. Frequently, strokes happen due to a blockage of blood flow to the brain or when a blood vessel near the brain ruptures. Changes in blood flow to the brain interrupt the flow of oxygen, resulting in damage to the brain cells and tissues.
Over 795,000 people suffer from strokes each year in the United States. However, despite their prevalence, it is not uncommon for doctors and witnesses to fail to realize that a person is having a stroke. Sometimes, conditions like epilepsy and migraines can mimic the signs of a stroke.
Strokes are quite dangerous. They can be fatal or result in long-term disability when not treated appropriately. Individuals need to understand the signs of a stroke.
Strokes can mimic other acute medical events, like seizures or migraines. However, a seizure or migraine is not nearly as serious as a stroke. Physicians must ensure they account for the differences between these medical events and provide an accurate diagnosis.
If you believe a doctor misdiagnosed your stroke, resulting in further medical complications, it is essential to seek the advice of a medical malpractice attorney. Doctors owe their patients a reasonable standard of care, and you deserve financial compensation for your losses if your physician fails to act diligently.
A medical malpractice lawyer can review your case to determine whether your doctor behaved negligently.
The Different Types of Strokes
There are three different types of strokes: ischemic, hemorrhagic, and transient ischemic attack.
Most strokes are ischemic. An ischemic stroke occurs due to a blockage in an artery that directly provides blood to the brain. The blockage prevents the blood from reaching the brain, and the impacted tissues and cells sustain damage. Brain cells will die if the doctor fails to restore blood circulation quickly.
Symptoms of an ischemic stroke include:
- Sudden vision problems, like double vision or difficulty seeing in one eye
- Inability to move arms or legs
- Abrupt feelings of dizziness or loss of balance
- Confusion or lack of understanding of simple tasks
If you notice signs of an ischemic stroke, seek medical treatment immediately. Believing that your symptoms will resolve on their own can increase your risk of fatality or future, more dangerous strokes.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when there is a rupture in a blood vessel in the brain. The blood released from the blood vessel forms a pool in the surrounding tissues. Brain cells usually supplied with fresh oxygen and blood from the vessel do not receive it, and brain damage can occur.
Hemorrhagic strokes are not as common as ischemic strokes. They account for approximately 13 percent of all strokes.
Hemorrhagic strokes are life-threatening. Individuals should not ignore the symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke and should seek treatment immediately.
Symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weakness of the face or limbs of the body
- Difficulty with speech or swallowing
You may immediately notice something wrong if you witness someone having a hemorrhagic stroke. Seek immediate medical attention from a hospital as quickly as possible.
Transient Ischemic Attack
Transient ischemic attacks are less likely to be fatal or deadly than ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes. The symptoms of a transient ischemic attack often resolve quickly—within a few minutes. The brain does not sustain any permanent damage from a transient ischemic attack.
However, a transient ischemic attack may lead to a stronger stroke in the coming days or weeks. While transient ischemic attacks may not be as severe as ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes, they can serve as a warning.
Patients who experience the symptoms of a transient ischemic attack should follow up with their physician for treatment.
Signs of a transient ischemic attack include:
- Weakness or paralysis of the face or limbs
- Vertigo and dizziness
- Slurred speech or difficulty understanding others
- Double vision, or sudden vision challenges
Even if symptoms dissipate shortly after a transient ischemic attack, it is essential to seek medical attention quickly. Visiting a physician can help you determine whether you genuinely had a transient ischemic attack and whether an underlying condition caused it. Early treatment can help prevent future, more severe strokes.
How to Help Someone Having a Stroke
It is essential to seek medical attention as quickly as possible if you believe someone is having a stroke. To determine whether a person is having a stroke, follow the FAST model. The FAST model has four components: face, arm, speech, and time.
First, ask the person to smile. Look at their face. If their smile appears uneven or crooked, they may be having a stroke. Next, ask them to raise both of their arms. If they cannot lift both arms to the same height, it is a sign of a stroke.
Also, check their speech by asking them to say something. If their words sound odd or they cannot form a regular sentence, they may be experiencing a stroke.
Time is of the essence if any of these symptoms are visible. Call 911 to get them immediate medical attention.
Anyone who witnesses another individual having a stroke should note when symptoms began to appear. There is a limited period that doctors can prevent brain damage and dissolve clots with specific treatments, typically 4.5 hours. Knowing when symptoms began can help doctors decide which treatments are appropriate.
It is not uncommon for stroke victims to refuse medical help. They may insist they just need sleep. Do not allow a person suffering from a stroke to go to bed. Instead, stand your ground and get them the medical care they need at a hospital.
Stroke treatments must be administered within a specific time frame to work, and if you allow them to sleep, you lose the potential to mitigate the damage from the stroke.
In addition, do not provide a potential stroke victim with medication, food, or drinks. Sometimes, stroke victims complain of a headache. However, giving them aspirin to help with the headache thins the blood. If they are having a hemorrhagic stroke, it can make matters worse.
Stroke victims sometimes have difficulty swallowing while experiencing the symptoms of a stroke. Thus, giving them anything to eat or drink could result in choking. It is best to simply keep the stroke victim comfortable while waiting for the ambulance. Give them a blanket to keep them warm, calm, and awake.
What Happens if a Doctor Improperly Treats a Stroke?
Strokes that a physician does not quickly treat can result in serious repercussions. The long-term consequences to stroke victims can leave them unable to handle their basic needs. A few of the most common long-term complications experienced by stroke victims include:
Following the onset of a stroke, brain cells die at the rate of 2 million every minute. Depending on the initial location of the stroke, patients may suffer from impaired cognitive functions that affect their ability to remember.
It is not uncommon for stroke victims to forget crucial parts of their life, like the names of their family members and friends. Stroke victims can also fail to remember specific events or things, like their birthdays or where they work.
Memory loss is one of the most devastating parts of a stroke. The quicker a physician treats a stroke, the more likely the patient is to recover their memory. If they fail to diagnose the stroke promptly, the patient may never fully restore their memory.
Communication can be significantly affected by a stroke. Alongside memory loss, stroke victims with severe brain damage may find speaking coherently and reading almost impossible. They may use the wrong words or be unable to interpret someone else’s words.
The longer a stroke victim goes without treatment, the more likely they will sustain severe long-term communication difficulties.
Long-term speech and physical therapy may be necessary to overcome communication difficulties. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you recoup past therapy expenses and obtain the money necessary to help them with future costs.
Paralysis and Movement Challenges
Since a stroke affects the brain’s ability to send out the appropriate nerve signals for movement, victims may find they cannot lift their limbs or walk properly. They may have strange sensations in their arms or fingers. If they try to walk, they may stumble or trip.
Paralysis and movement challenges are tough for victims to handle. They often cannot return to their regular occupation and may be unable to work. Everyday chores, like going to the grocery store or taking the dogs for a walk, will likely be impossible. Therapy can help regain some control over movement, but it is not always successful.
Medical malpractice attorneys can help you obtain compensation for lost wages due to you from a stroke that was not appropriately treated and resulted in your loss of movement.
Trouble Eating and Swallowing
Another common issue with stroke victims is difficulty controlling the throat muscles. The throat muscles allow us to eat and drink and prevent us from inadvertently choking. When nerve damage to the throat muscles occurs, victims may be unable to chew and swallow their food without potentially choking on it.
In the worst cases, stroke victims require regular medical care to ensure they receive adequate nutrients since they cannot feed themselves. As you can imagine, difficulties swallowing can result in a severe deterioration of the patient’s quality of life.
A medical malpractice lawyer can help you obtain financial damages for your loved one’s loss of enjoyment of life and the compensation you need to ensure they have adequate medical care.
Deciding Whether You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or your loved one’s stroke or lack of treatment was due to a physician’s negligence, you likely qualify for a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice is serious. People suffer long-term consequences every day due to physicians who make mistakes.
While you may be hesitant to start a lawsuit, you should consider the costs incurred due to a physician’s errors. Medical negligence often results in costly ongoing treatment, including long-term care, therapy, and lost income. In addition to the economic costs, your loved one’s quality of life can significantly suffer.
When a doctor acts negligently in treating a stroke, chances are that they will make the same mistake again. A lawsuit for medical malpractice can provide an impetus to make a physician think twice before failing to exercise reasonable care with other patients.
Simply seeking legal advice from a qualified medical malpractice lawyer can put your mind at ease and help you determine whether you have a legal claim. The time you spend on a case review could prove very valuable.
Medical Malpractice Attorneys You Can Trust
When you’re considering a medical malpractice claim, you want to ensure you get assistance from skilled medical malpractice attorneys with extensive knowledge of personal injury law.
Look for a team that has experience in the courtroom and negotiating settlements. During your consultation, ask them about client reviews, the verdicts they have won, and how many cases of medical malpractice they have handled. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer near you for help with your claim today.