If you are among the millions of people whose loved one has had a debilitating stroke, you are fully aware of its effects. In many stroke cases, people who were once lively and astute are now shadows of their former selves. There are some stroke victims who, although they may not have suffered a full-blown debilitating stroke, are still suffering to some degree and have a long road of recovery ahead. There are also those who were not fortunate enough to make it through.
No stroke is a minor event. Even a small stroke, called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), could become a nightmare, because a TIA is much easier for medical professionals to misdiagnose. Most strokes, sadly, could easily be misdiagnosed if the proper steps are not taken.
Too often, a doctor or hospital will fail to recognize that either a stroke has occurred, is in progress, or is imminent. The result of this failure is often catastrophic, leading to death or permanent, life-altering disability. While you should know the risks, warning signs, and symptoms of strokes before one occurs, if your stroke was misdiagnosed you should reach out to a skilled medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
What Defines a Stroke?
According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), a stroke is a disease that has an effect on the arteries that supply blood to the brain. That includes arteries leading to the brain and arteries in the brain. Bothe the ASA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list stroke as the fifth cause of death in the U.S.
A stroke occurs when the blood that flows to the brain through an artery is cut off or decreased because of a blood clot or ruptured artery. The result is lack of oxygen to the brain. Within a matter of minutes, brain cells begin to die. Within a matter of hours, brain tissue begins to die. When brain cells and tissue begin to die, the brain starts losing its ability to function.
What Are Common Effects of a Stroke?
The severity of a stroke depends on how long the brain is deprived of oxygen. In short, the longer a person’s brain goes without oxygen, the more brain damage occurs.
- Behavioral changes
- Chronic pain
- Difficulty with reading and writing
- Loss of motor skills, which allow a person to function in everyday life
- Memory loss
- Paralysis, which often occurs on one side of the body
- Problems understanding words.
- Severe strokes can cause permanent damage or death.
- Speech problems
- Strokes could also lead to more severe strokes
What Are the Symptoms of a Stroke?
Strokes are frequently misdiagnosed, which is why it is important that you are aware of the possible symptoms that could occur, and that you insist on the full gamut of tests in the event that one or more of the symptoms appear.
The possible symptoms that may occur if you are experiencing a stroke are difficulty speaking or slurred speech; numbness of the face, leg, or arm; weakness of the face, leg, or arm; severe headaches or sudden loss of vision; confusion or difficulty understanding words and sentences; and difficulty walking or maintaining balance.
What Are the Different Types of Strokes?
An ischemic stroke is the most common. According to the ASA, ischemic strokes account for 87 percent of all strokes. This type of stroke occurs from an obstructed artery. When the brain cannot receive the proper amount of oxygenated blood, it cannot function properly.
The main cause for ischemic stroke is atherosclerosis, fatty deposits that line the vessel walls. These fatty deposits can lead to two kinds of blockage. One is called cerebral thrombosis, a blood clot that develops in and around the fatty plaque inside the artery. The other is called cerebral embolism, a blood clot that is formed usually in the heart or large arteries of the upper chest or neck.
Cerebral embolism occurs when part of a blood clot breaks loose and travels to different areas, eventually reaching blood vessels inside the brain that are too small to accommodate the clotted blood. A main contributor to cerebral embolism is an irregular heartbeat, known in medical terms as atrial fibrillation.
It is common for atrial fibrillation to cause blood clots in the heart, eventually breaking loose and traveling to the brain. An ischemic stroke has a three to four-hour window until it becomes too severe to treat properly, leaving permanent damage.
Hemorrhagic strokes, according to the ASA, represent roughly 13 percent of all strokes. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs from a ruptured artery. A weakened artery will rupture, causing bleeding in the brain until it accumulates and compresses, or puts pressure, on surrounding brain tissue.
A transient ischemic attack is well known as a mini stroke or TIA. This happens when the flow of blood to the brain is disrupted or blocked for a period usually less than five minutes. A TIA may present any of the usual symptoms of a stroke, but it will most commonly and quickly present weakness in an arm, slurred speech, face drooping, or numbness.
The danger of a TIA is that it is often disregarded by those who may experience it. It is also the easiest of all the types of strokes for a doctor to misdiagnose. A TIA is often a warning sign that a major stroke is on the way. It will most often be treated by using a blood thinner.
How Are Strokes Misdiagnosed?
The more serious strokes are difficult to miss, albeit it sometimes happens, but less severe strokes, especially a TIA, is commonly and ubiquitously misdiagnosed. A person suffering a stroke often does not appear critically ill. A patient who complains of a headache, for instance, could be diagnosed simply as having a migraine and sent home with medication to reduce the pain.
Ignoring signs of a minor stroke could lead to a more serious one. Focal neurologic signs, for instance, are concrete indications of a stroke that must be taken seriously. Focal neurologic signs are impairments of nerve, spinal cord, or brain function, affecting specific areas of the body. Weakness or numbness in an arm or leg is an example.
Doctors could misdiagnose a stroke patient as having vertigo or depression. Slurred speech and difficulty comprehending speech could be diagnosed as an allergy or influenza virus. Tumors, seizures, and hypoglycemia all have stroke-like symptoms. It is imperative that a doctor clearly distinguish the difference between these types of illnesses and a stroke.
A doctor sometimes has a window of only a few hours to prevent a major stroke from occurring. Misdiagnosing a stroke in such a case could lead to permanent injury or death. When it comes to prevention, a doctor has an obligation to recognize patients who are at high risk for a stroke. Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation.
Dayton Medical Malpractice Lawyer at Wright & Schulte LLC Represent Those Who Have Had a Misdiagnosed Stroke.
If you or a loved one were misdiagnosed during or after a stroke and have suffered serious consequences, you need a competent lawyer on your side. Our experienced Dayton medical malpractice lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC will fight all the way to bring you the compensation you deserve. Call us at (937) 222-7477 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Vandalia and Dayton, Ohio, we serve clients throughout Ohio.