News & Resources

December 14, 2015. Category: Medical Malpractice

Misdiagnosed Strokes Can Turn a Problem into a Disaster

Strokes occur over 700,000 times a year in the United States, according to the University of Maryland. Doctors misdiagnose strokes more often than most people realize, especially if the patient is young or middle-aged. Since a stroke causes the progressive destruction of brain cells, any delay in treatment can be catastrophic.

Because misdiagnosed stroke claims are typically complex, you are likely going to need the services of an experienced Tampa medical malpractice lawyer to obtain adequate compensation under Florida personal injury law.

Types of Strokes

Stokes can be divided into two types:

  • Ischemic strokes, which are caused by a blood clot in the brain the blocks off a blood vessel
  • Hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when a blood vessel bursts in the brain.

While most strokes are classified as ischemic strokes, both types of strokes kill brain cells by starving them of oxygen.

Causes of Misdiagnosis

Physicians misdiagnose strokes for a variety of reasons, some of which are:

  • The patient is young. Since strokes are uncommon in young people, the physician may not even consider the possibility of a stroke unless the symptoms are severe and obvious.
  • The stroke is mild and the physician confuses its symptoms. For instance, he or she may confuse numbness in the face, arms or legs with another condition that is unrelated to a stroke.
  • The stroke is confused with a trans-ischemic attack, which often precedes a stroke but typically allows more time for treatment.
  • The physician or a medical technician misreads the results of a radiology test.

The misdiagnosis of initially mild stroke symptoms can be particularly tragic because it may progress to a major stroke or even leave the patient vulnerable to a devastating second stroke.

The “Golden Hour”

A stroke is a progressive event in which a large number of brain cells, deprived of oxygen, die over a period of time. The “Golden Hour” is the 60-minute period that immediately follows the onset of stroke symptoms. Strokes, particularly ischemic strokes, must be treated within this one-hour period to minimize consequences such as paralysis, cognitive difficulties and even death. Obviously, a misdiagnosed stroke is not likely to be treated within this timeframe.    


Under Florida medical malpractice law, you are entitled to the following types of compensation if you are harmed by a misdiagnosed stroke:

  • Medical expenses (past, present and future)
  • Lost earnings
  • Out-of-pocket expenses such as travel expenses
  • Pain and suffering (for physical pain and distress)
  • Mental anguish (caused by a loss of one’s ability to enjoy activities and companionship)

If the stroke victim dies, a spouse and/or dependent children can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Taking Action

If you have suffered harm from a misdiagnosed stroke, the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Alley, Clark & Greiwe can help you. Contact us online or call us at 813-222-0977 for a free initial evaluation of your case.

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