A stroke occurs when there is decreased supply of blood to the brain from blood vessels, which in turn decreases the amount of oxygen that the brain receives. As a result, brain cells begin to die. For this reason, a stroke is also known as a “brain attack.” It is a treatable condition, however in some cases, disability and even death can occur. The chances of that increase significantly with a misdiagnosis. If the doctor failed to do his due diligence in treating you, a lawsuit may lead to significant financial compensation.
According to American Stroke Association, there are 3 different types of strokes:
- Ischemic stroke: This is the most common type of stroke, making up over 87% of all cases. A blood clot is responsible for preventing blood and oxygen from getting to the brain.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: This occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain, compressing the surrounding brain tissue.
- Transient ischemic attack: This is when blood flow to the brain is temporarily inadequate, and the symptoms are usually resolved without treatment within several minutes. It is also known as a ministroke.
Stroke Treatment and Misdiagnosis
A stroke is an emergency situation and requires immediate transport to a hospital. There, the doctors will do brain scans to determine what type of stroke a person has suffered. The subsequent treatment will depend on the stroke type. For an ischemic stroke, if a person comes to the ER within 3 hours of the first symptoms, they will typically get a clot-busting drug, called a thrombolytic, to treat the stroke. If the window has passed, blood thinners may be administered and surgery may be required to remove the blood clot. In the case of a hemorrhagic stroke, medicine and surgery will be needed to stop the bleeding into the brain.
After emergency room treatment, rehabilitation is often the next step, though it may be the case that a person may never fully recover from their stroke.
According to a study from 2022, strokes were missed 17% of the time in emergency rooms. It was the top condition that was misdiagnosed in the ER, out of a total of 7.4 million people estimated to be misdiagnosed. A misdiagnosis can present serious problems for the patient, including missed opportunities for acute treatment as well as care management to avoid a more serious stroke in the future.
A person who believes that they have suffered adverse effects as a result of a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose a stroke may be entitled to compensation. It’s important to consult an attorney as soon as possible to determine if there is a viable case to be made.
Compensation for Misdiagnosis of a Stroke
A recent study on medical malpractice suits related to strokes found that the average out-of-court settlement was about $1.8 million, while the average jury verdict was $9.7 million. This shows that the compensation amounts in successful lawsuits tend to be quite high, highlighting the importance of hiring experienced attorneys who will not only be able to determine if you have a viable claim, but can argue your case effectively and maximize your compensation.
If an attorney determines that there is a valid case, then they will gather the facts to start making claims for damages. In a standard medical malpractice lawsuit, a stroke misdiagnosis victim may be entitled to three different types of damages:
- Medical expenses
- Nursing care, physical therapy, and/or other supervision required
- Lost or diminished job earnings as a result of the stroke
- Physical pain and suffering (both past and present)
- Emotional pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life (both past and present)
- Loss of consortium (where a spouse has lost the financial as well as the emotional support of the injured/deceased person)
If the estate (typically the spouse or immediate successors, like the children of the deceased) is suing for wrongful death, they can recover for:
- Loss of support, services, and voluntary assistance, like college education
- Loss of the prospect of inheriting money and/or property
Punitive damages are meant to punish the harming party. They are rare, and are awarded in exceptional circumstances where the physician/medical care facility has acted in such an outrageous manner that additional damages are warranted. They also serve to deter them from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
How to File a Claim
A person alleging medical malpractice has to show that all of the four elements of such a claim have been met. In short, it has to be proven that medical negligence led to damages.
If a person is considering filing a claim for medical malpractice, it’s important to know that there is also a statute of limitations for how much time can pass between the alleged harm and filing a claim. The statute of limitations varies on a state-by-state basis, all leading to the fact that if a person brings a case past the statute of limitations, the court will not consider it.
The discovery rule protects patients from being unable to bring lawsuits in time due to the nature of the injury. It ensures that the clock on the statute of limitations only begins to run once a person has discovered, or reasonably should have known that they have an injury. This is because there are some injuries that only become apparent after some time has passed, unlike those that should be obvious right away, like operating on the wrong limb. As soon as a person suspects that they have suffered an injury, however, it is important to reach out to an attorney to determine if there is a medical malpractice claim to be made.
The process of filing a claim and getting compensation for being harmed by a doctor’s negligent behavior is complicated and requires an attorney who has experience in this field. Not only is a certificate from an attorney an essential component of filing the lawsuit, but the heavy lifting of gathering appropriate evidence, finding experts to testify, and navigating the legal process is something that cannot be done by oneself. For more information, see our previous article on malpractice suits.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney
If you suspect that your doctor missed a stroke diagnosis and are considering filing a medical malpractice suit, it’s important to seek legal assistance from a lawyer who specializes in this type of litigation. The sooner you do so, the more time they will have to assess your case to determine whether or not you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or other forms of suffering brought on by the misdiagnosis.
At Rosenblum Law, we’ve been handling medical malpractice claims for decades. We work with medical experts to help support our clients’ claims, and are experienced negotiators when it comes to going up against insurance companies that represent the doctors and medical care facilities that are being sued. Our firm is here to help you make sense of your options and protect your rights as a patient. To schedule your free initial consultation, call us today at 888-235-9021 or contact us online.
One study showed that altered mental status, general weakness, and fatigue are among the most common symptoms that are misdiagnosed for another illness rather than a stroke. Another found that symptoms not exclusive to stroke, like dizziness or vertigo, increased the likelihood of misdiagnosis.
There are 4 diseases that have symptoms similar to a stroke. All can present partial paralysis, droopy face and eyes, and slurred speech, to name a few.
· Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia
· Multiple sclerosis
· Intracranial tumors or infections
A stroke may be missed by a medical professional who mistakenly thinks that it’s one of the above conditions rather than a stroke, causing valuable loss of time and treatment.
Missing a stroke diagnosis can lead to serious disability and even death. For example, missed minor strokes are harbingers of impending serious strokes that can occur within days or weeks. Generally, the failure to diagnose a stroke in a timely manner leads to lost opportunities to treat complications from the initial stroke or management to avoid a second stroke.
In New York, a claim must be filed within 2.5 years of the alleged negligent behavior or the last treatment if there is a continuous treatment for the condition. Furthermore, the claim to be filed has to be accompanied by a certificate executed by the attorney stating that based on their review of the facts, there is a reasonable basis for filing the claim. In New Jersey, however, the claim must be filed within 2 years of the alleged malpractice. There is also a certification requirement that must be sent to the parties being sued within 60 days after that party has filed an answer to the claim made against them.