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Misdiagnosing a Stroke May Endanger a Patient’s Life

Patients LifeAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, a fatal stroke occurs every four minutes in the United States. With these numbers only projected to rise, physicians must remain vigilant of patients presenting with possible stroke symptoms as a misdiagnosis or delay in treatment may result in the loss of a patient, severe disabilities and possibly a medical malpractice or wrongful death suit.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke, quick thinking and immediate medical treatment are important not only to the patient but to the attending medical team as well. By quickly identifying and treating a stroke, the risk of fatalities and severe disabilities significantly decreases.

To highlight the tell-tale signs a patient who may be presenting with a stroke, physicians often take into consideration:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, often on one side of the body;
  • Confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding speech;
  • Inability to walk, enhanced dizziness, loss or balance or coordination;
  • Difficulty with vision; and
  • Sudden severe headache.

To further identify a stroke, the medical field has adopted the F.A.S.T. test. Observation and administration of this test can further determine whether or not the patient is truly presenting with a stroke:

  • F - Face: A physician should request the patient smile and note if one side of the patient’s face droops,
  • A - Arms:- The physician should instruct the patient to raise both arms and note if one drifts downward,
  • S - Speech: The physician should ask the patient to repeat a simple phrase and note if the patient’s speech is slurred or jumbled,
  • T - Time: If the symptoms are evident, the attending medical team should waste no time and immediately begin treatment protocol for a stroke.

Although 85 percent of all stroke victims present with Ischemic Stroke symptoms, due to a blockage of the artery that supplies both blood and oxygen to the brain, there are two other stoke categories to be considered. The Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA is a type of “mini-stroke” and the other, a Hemorrhagic Strokes involves a leakage or rupture of the artery to the brain.

Course of Treatment

Once identified, immediate emergency treatment will often determine the patient’s physical and neurological outcome. If the patient had arrived via ambulance and had been assessed as a stroke victim, then preliminary treatment had already begun. Once in the care of the emergency room medical team, if possible the patient should disclose their medical history and asked the time of when the symptoms started.

The next step in the care of the patient often includes a consultation with the neurology team. If the stroke has been identified as an Ischemic stroke, the injection of Thrombolytic (a clot-busting drug) or Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) may be ordered. If tPA is administered during the first three hours of a patient’s stroke symptoms, the degree of damage or possible loss of life may lessen. This is why time is of the essence when diagnosing and treating stroke patients.

If you have recently experienced a stroke and are now experiencing physical or neurological disabilities due to the misdiagnosis or delay of treatment by the emergency medical team, the skilled San Jose medical malpractice attorneys of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. would like to assess your situation. To schedule your free consultation contact us at (408) 289-1417 to learn more about your legal options.

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My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.