How to Spot a Stroke Caused by Medical Malpractice

Stroke Awareness Month

May Is National Stroke Awareness Month

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosts National Stroke Awareness Month to educate Americans regarding the risks and symptoms of strokes. Though they are most often caused by blood clots that block oxygenated blood on its way to the brain, strokes can also be caused by other disruptions that deprive brain tissue of the oxygen and nutrients it needs. Serious, irreversible brain damage can be caused in minutes; if a stroke is serious enough, a patient may not survive it.

Most public health information regarding strokes is about prevention: A healthy lifestyle is a useful tool when it comes to keeping your stroke risk low. Therefore, most people do not know strokes can also be caused by improper or inadequate medical care. The victims of such strokes may be able to receive compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. The more you know about your health, the more you can do to protect it. With that in mind, here is some essential knowledge that can help you identify a stroke and receive timely treatment.

Know the Warning Signs of Stroke

Strokes have a sudden onset and can happen at any time or place. Symptoms often include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty comprehending language
  • Confusion
  • Numbness, paralysis, or weakness of the face, arm, or leg
  • Double vision
  • Blurred or blackened vision in one or both eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Sudden vomiting
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Loss of coordination

These symptoms are typically easy to spot and can help a victim identify the problem in time to receive lifesaving treatment. However, strokes may cause “nontraditional” symptoms that are more likely to present in women than men. Women especially should pay attention to signs such as:

  • Disorientation
  • Generalized weakness or fatigue
  • Change in mental status—malaise or just “feeling odd”
  • Behavioral changes
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)

Such symptoms are often not recognized as indicators of stroke and, therefore, may lead a victim to delay seeking help. Especially if they only present intermittently, or stop completely, a stroke victim may ignore the warning signs until it is too late. When it comes to strokes, it’s better to be over-cautious: Each minute lost can result in more brain damage.

Get Help “FAST”

The CDC and the Mayo Clinic both endorse the “FAST” method for determining whether you or a loved one needs to seek medical care for a potential stroke. This quick, three-question survey identifies the most common symptoms.

  • Face: Can the person smile, or does one side of their face droop?
  • Arms: Can they raise both arms and hold them above their head? If so, do they have trouble holding one arm up?
  • Speech: Say a simple phrase and ask them to repeat it. Is their speech slurred or strange in any way?
  • Time: If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes,” call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.

When Strokes Are Caused by Medical Malpractice

From failure to notice risk factors to improper preventative methods before surgeries, a doctor’s negligence can put patients at risk of stroke. The risk factors for stroke are broad; any demographic could be at risk in the wrong circumstances. Below we’ve gathered information on some procedures that are common in stroke-related medical malpractice cases.

Carotid Endarterectomy

Ironically, this surgery to clear fatty blockages in the arteries that deliver blood to the brain may result in a stroke if your surgeon makes a mistake. Strokes may occur during or after the procedure; if they happen mid-surgery, doctor error is a likely cause. Difficulty with shunt placements or poor reconstruction of the artery can disrupt blood flow to the patient’s brain with catastrophic consequences.

Angiography and Cardiac Catheterization

Angiography, also involving the carotid artery, involves injecting a non-toxic dye into the bloodstream so doctors can observe the blood flow in a patient’s brain. Cardiac catheterization surgery is used to strengthen parts of the heart or nearby arteries through the insertion of stents and other devices. Both may dislodge a blood clot or other debris that is stuck in a vein or artery. If it circulates far enough, the obstruction might end up in an artery that leads to the brain.

Pregnancy and Strokes

Some women develop dangerously high blood pressure during a pregnancy, which increases their risk of strokes. Doctors should spot this problem in one of the many checkups pregnant patients receive. They can help at-risk patients review treatment options geared toward reducing the likelihood of stroke. Other pregnancy-related conditions like gestational diabetes and blood clots can also predispose a pregnant person to strokes.

Failure to Diagnose or Treat Stroke

In some cases of stroke caused by the procedures listed above, the treating hospital may fail to recognize a stroke has occurred or offer the treatment the patient needs in time. As we’ve said, each moment lost results in the deaths of more brain cells. When a doctor misses or mistakes a diagnosis, a stroke victim might suffer damage that will lead to lasting disability. Patients and their families deserve to be compensated for all the expenses and difficulties they may face due to a doctor’s negligence in such a matter.

If you believe medical malpractice caused you to suffer a stroke, whether in one of the procedures we highlighted in this blog, a case of medication mismanagement, or other circumstances, reach out to Wilson Law, P.A. We are here to support stroke victims and their families as they pursue the compensation they need and deserve.

Call us at (919) 800-0919 or reach out online for a completely free case review. Our caring team is here for you.