Strokes are all too common medical events, yet doctors don’t always diagnose them right away. If you go to the emergency room with classic signs of a stroke, such as one side of your face is drooping and you have slurred speech, you’ll likely be diagnosed and treated right away. But not all strokes present themselves so clearly, and too many doctors miss these trickier cases.
Receiving a misdiagnosis of your stroke is a serious problem. Strokes can lead to permanent disability and death. When a doctor is careless and doesn’t realize you’re having a stroke, you may face a much different future.
It’s important to talk with an experienced medical malpractice attorney after a stroke misdiagnosis. Not every delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis creates a valid medical negligence claim under Washington law. Doctors can adhere to their professional standard of care and still miss the stroke diagnosis.
Menzer Law Firm will carefully review your medical records and circumstances. We’ll advise you on the strength of your medical malpractice claim. If your health care provider was negligent, we’re here to advocate for you and bring a Washington medical malpractice claim.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen to the brain ruptures or is blocked by a clot. A part of the brain doesn’t receive the oxygen it needs, and as a result, brain cells die. Strokes can be fatal and are the fifth most common causes of death in the US, as well as a leading cause of disability.
There are different types of strokes. When a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain, it’s known as an ischemic stroke. These are the most common types of strokes. Some people experience temporary clots that cause mini-strokes, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA).
When a blood vessel ruptures or leaks, it’s a hemorrhagic stroke. These can be caused by high blood pressure, overtreatment of blood thinners, aneurysms, trauma, protein deposits that weaken blood vessel walls, and ischemic strokes.
Stroke Misdiagnosis is Too Common
A study published in 2017 found about 9% of patients who go to the ER with a stroke, TIA, or subarachnoid hemorrhage are misdiagnosed at first. The reasons for misdiagnosis are varied but include patients who have mild, non-specific, or transient symptoms, like headaches, nausea, and vertigo. It’s also a problem for patients who are younger and, overall, less likely to suffer from a stroke.
The Consequences of a Stroke
Different areas of the brain control different areas or functions of your body. When a certain blood vessel is damaged, the oxygen doesn’t reach a certain part of your brain. That specific area loses brain cells, which in turn causes disability in the specific part of the body or function which the damaged part of the brain controls.
It’s common for strokes that damage the left side of the brain to cause paralysis on the right side of the body and to cause issues with language, behavior, and memory loss. Damage to the right side of the brain often leads to paralysis on the left side of the body and can cause issues with vision.
Did a Doctor Misdiagnose Your Stroke?
If you believe you’re having a stroke or had a mini-stroke, it’s important to go to the emergency room right away. Your doctor will talk with you about your medical history, lifestyle, symptoms, and other factors to rule out other conditions. You should go through a physical exam, a neurological exam, and some type of imaging.
Your doctor might order a carotid ultrasound, which shows fatty deposits and the blood flow in your carotid arteries, an echocardiogram, which shows a detailed image of your heart, or possibly a cerebral angiogram, which requires doctors to inject dye into your carotid or vertebral artery to create X-ray images of your arteries.
Whether you went to the emergency room, an immediate care clinic, or a general practitioner, doctors should recognize the signs of a stroke. They should know how to diagnose an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke as well as how to treat it. But if you later learn a doctor failed to diagnose your stroke and properly treat it, call an experienced Seattle medical malpractice lawyer immediately.
Pursuing a Stroke Misdiagnosis Claim
If we find that medical records suggest the physician should have diagnosed your stroke sooner, we’ll talk with you about moving forward with a claim under Washington’s medical malpractice law.
Menzer Law Firm will thoroughly investigate the situation. We’ll gather evidence of your treating physician’s deviation from their standard of care and evidence that the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis caused you harm, such as permanent disabilities. We know how to present this evidence persuasively during mediation or litigation.
Our goal will be to win you the maximum amount of fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries. This can occur by way of a negotiated settlement or after a jury trial. If the defendant and his or her insurance company are not willing to compensate you fairly, we aren’t afraid to fight for your right to fair compensation before a jury.
To schedule a free consultation and discuss your potential medical malpractice claim, contact Menzer Law Firm in Seattle, WA, through our online form or call (206) 903-1818 to schedule your initial consultation.