Take two aspirin and call me in the morning may be a cliché, but doctors often fail to correctly diagnose a patient suffering from a stroke if they present with headaches or dizziness that are dismissed as minor problems. This is particularly true with younger people, women, and minorities. A stroke misdiagnosis can have devastating, life-threatening consequences that can often be avoided if the stroke had been quickly and correctly diagnosed.
At Alley, Clark & Greiwe, our experienced Tampa medical malpractice lawyers help and fight for individuals and families who are dealing with the consequences of a stroke misdiagnosis. We work tirelessly to obtain compensation for victims of medical malpractice and are fiercely determined to hold doctors accountable for their avoidable mistakes.
Strokes are Common...So Are Stroke Misdiagnoses
Every year, over 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, and strokes take the lives of about 140,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Georgia where the CDC is headquartered, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing 3,665 Georgians in 2013 alone. In fact, Georgia is in a region known as the “stroke belt,” with stroke death rates in Georgia 14% higher than the U.S. average.
With stroke being such a common and prevalent cause of hospitalizations and death, one would think that stroke misdiagnoses would be less frequent; that doctors would be particularly on alert for stroke symptoms. Unfortunately, stroke misdiagnoses are one of the most common diagnostic mistakes physicians make, especially in emergency rooms.
Numerous studies have found elevated rates of stroke misdiagnosis, including a 20014 study which found that up to 12.7% of hospital stroke admissions were misdiagnosed initially. Another study found that patients arriving at emergency rooms presenting stroke symptoms have about a 9% risk that their stroke will be misdiagnosed, compared to less a misdiagnosis rate of less than 2% for patients with heart attacks.
Why are Strokes Misdiagnosed?
Many of the reasons for stroke misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis are the same reasons other conditions are misdiagnosed, including:
- Laboratory mistakes
- Improper test analysis
- Failure to timely consult neurological specialists
- Delay in testing for stroke and treatment of stroke
- Failure to take a complete medical history
- Failure to perform a thorough physical exam
- Failure to order necessary tests
- Failure to consider stroke in younger patients
- Failure to recognize stroke in patients who appear healthy
Timely Diagnosis is Critical for Stroke Survival
Early treatment is critical to minimizing the effects of a stroke. According to the CDC, patients who arrive at the emergency room and receive proper treatment for stroke within three hours of their first symptoms often have less disability three months after a stroke than those who received delayed care.
Additionally, some patients who suffer from a type of stroke called an ischemic stroke can be given a clot-busting medication known as tissue plasminogen activator (or Alteplase IV r-tPA) that can dramatically reduce stroke damage, but the medication usually must be provided within a window of three to four and a half hours of a stroke to be effective. With time being of the essence for the treatment of stroke, even the slightest delay can be devastating. Missing the stroke completely could be deadly.
Contact Our Tampa Malpractice Attorneys
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered because of a missed or delayed stroke diagnosis, or you think you have been a victim of other forms of medical malpractice in Tampa, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Recovering such compensation requires the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Such suits are extremely complicated, and many investigatory steps need to be taken before you can file a claim for compensation.
The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at the law firm of Alley, Clark & Greiwe are Board-certified trial attorneys and have been recognized by the legal community for their experience and knowledge in litigating claims for persons who have been victims of serious medical errors, including misdiagnoses. Please contact us online to arrange for your free case evaluation.