Failure to Diagnose and Treat a Stroke

Stroke Misdiagnosis Lawyer Washington, D.C.

Help for stroke victims whose doctors failed to diagnose and treat them

Strokes are serious; they are the #4 killer in Washington, D.C. On average, someone in America dies of a stroke about every four minutes. There are several medical conditions that increase a patient’s likelihood of having a stroke if they are not properly monitored and controlled. This begins with proper diagnosis and treatment by a doctor that requires obtaining an accurate medical history, performing a physical exam, and conducting tests.

At Paulson & Nace, PLLC, we help protect stroke victims and their families when a doctor fails to diagnose and treat a stroke. Our experienced team of Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys has helped families just like yours obtain the compensation they need to protect themselves and their futures after a doctor has failed to act at the expected level of care.

Understanding a stroke

As with heart disease, a stroke is the result of a blockage or a rupture in the blood vessels. The blood carries oxygen to the brain through the vessels, so a stroke can lead to oxygen deprivation. Strokes fall into three categories:

  • Ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke is a blot clot that obstructs the vessel which supplies blood to the brain. The majority of strokes are ischemic – about 87%.
  • Transient ischemic attack, or TIA. TIAs are sometimes called “mini-strokes,” because the clot in the vessel is temporary. Nonetheless, they are incredibly serious because any amount of oxygen deprivation can have a long-term effect on the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes are ruptured blood vessels. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading cause of this type of stroke. Aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations are the most commonly weakened blood vessels.

“About 9 percent of patients who present to the emergency department (ED) with stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or subarachnoid hemorrhage are initially misdiagnosed… with mild, non-specific or transient neurological complaints.” Neurology Today

What are the risk factors for a stroke?

Some of the health conditions and habits that put patients at increased risk for stroke can often be resolved by seeking medical treatment. Some individuals have multiple factors putting their health in jeopardy.

Some of these risk factors for stroke include:

  • Smoking. It’s no secret that smoking causes a number of health complications and quitting can substantially reduce your chances of having a stroke. Doctors failing to address this health concern with their patients or neglecting to assess which cessation program is right for each individual to help them reach their goal of quitting is negligent. Additionally, health professionals must know when a prescription medication is called for and when over-the-counter or other methods are safer, more effective options instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Obesity. Just like with smoking, doctors need to know which weight loss treatment is going to be most successful for each individual patient. In some cases, a combination of medication, diet, and exercise may be the proper course while others could require surgery. Not every patient will be a good candidate for both methods and making the wrong choice can unnecessarily put someone at risk for surgical errors or weight loss failure, leaving them a potential stroke victim.
  • High blood pressure. You wouldn’t think that high blood pressure could be misdiagnosed, but it can. Using the wrong testing equipment can show a patient has high blood pressure when he or she does not, which can prompt taking unnecessary prescription medication. In fact, alpha blockers and alpha-2 agonists prescribed to treat high blood pressure have been previously linked to increasing the risk of death. If high blood pressure is improperly diagnosed it can lead to wrongful death.

Other factors and health conditions that need to be paid proper attention to by medical professionals are high cholesterol and diabetes.

While older people are more likely to have strokes, patients of any age may suffer a stroke as a result of medical negligence. Some common acts of negligence include:

What injuries are caused by misdiagnosis of stroke?

Strokes affect the brain, and a delayed or misdiagnosis of a stroke can lead to severe and/or permanent brain injuries. Other injuries can include:

  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Memory loss
  • Vocabulary loss
  • Immobility and/or los of balance

Often, stroke victims experience behavioral changes as well. Some patients may become angry or combative, using language they would never use. Others may suffer from anxiety or depression. These behavior changes may be temporary, or they may last for months or even years.

Recognizing the warning signs of stroke

The American Stroke Association uses the acronym FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911 – to make it easier to remember the signs of a stroke. Though these are the most common symptoms, a stroke may present with:

  • Blurry vision in one or both eyes
  • Difficulty understanding what other people are saying
  • Sudden lack of balance or coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headaches that appear out of nowhere

Because these symptoms have long been associated with a stroke, healthcare providers should recognize them, especially in combination with any of the FAST symptoms. A doctor who fails to recognize and diagnose the signs of a stroke may delay the treatments you need in order to get well. A delay in treatment may also increase the risk of permanent brain damage, if your brain is deprived of oxygen for too long.

At Paulson & Nace, we understand how devastating a stroke can be not only for the victims, but for their families. We help our clients obtain the compensation they need to protect their families. We are by your side for as long as it takes to ensure that your family will be able to recover.

Let our family help your family after a doctor fails to diagnose or treat a stroke

Paulson & Nace, PLLC, offers comprehensive and compassionate care to stroke victims and their families throughout Washington, D.C. If a doctor failed to diagnose or treat your stroke, we want to hear your story. Please call 202.463.1999 or fill out our contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced trial attorneys.