NY Medical Malpractice Lawyer Explains Dangers of Misdiagnosing a Stroke
New York City, NY top attorney, handles medical malpractice, wrongful death, doctor errors, MTA, bus accidents, airline injuries & death, and construction cases. Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter consistently delivers results.
If you have ever gone to the emergency room, you might have experienced a long wait. When you’re in pain or dealing with a life-threatening emergency, the last thing you need is to be told to sit down and wait for help. In other cases, patients are lined up in a hallway, where they must wait for hours to see a doctor.
Unfortunately, overcrowded and understaffed emergency rooms are a growing problem in American hospitals. While overcrowding in the ER can lead to any number of bad outcomes, when a medical professional misses the signs of someone having a stroke it can be deadly. If you have been misdiagnosed by a medical professional in New York, it’s crucial that you speak with experienced New York medical malpractice attorney Jonathan C. Reiter who has experience handling medical misdiagnosis cases.
If you have been misdiagnosed by a medical professional in New York, it’s crucial that you speak with experienced New York medical malpractice attorney Jonathan C. Reiter who has experience handling medical misdiagnosis cases.
Stroke Is a Leading Cause of Death in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the country. Every year, roughly 795,000 people experience a stroke.
The CDC also points out that strokes are treatable. When a person having a stroke gets the emergency medical help they need right away, their chances of survival are quite high. Tragically, busy doctors don’t always recognize the signs of a stroke. In some cases, they may even send stroke patients home after a misdiagnosis, where the patient continues to get worse or possibly die.
What Are the Signs of a Stroke?
It’s critical for medical professionals to spot the signs of a stroke. If they fail to recognize the symptoms and end up misdiagnosing a patient, they are putting that individual in serious danger of further injury and death.
Common signs and symptoms of a stroke include:
- Numbness, tingling, and weakness in the limbs, and often on one side of the body
- Numbness and tingling sensations in the face
- Slurred speech and trouble talking
- Mental status changes, confusion or “brain fog”
- Problems with vision
- The sudden onset of a severe headache
- Lack of coordination and loss of balance
In the medical community, doctors and nurses rely on an acronym to help quickly assess whether a person is experiencing a stroke. They use the word FAST to perform a battery of tests that cover all the major warning signs of a stroke.
The F stands for “face,” which reminds a medical professional to check for the classic sign of a patient’s face drooping on one side or the other. While not every stroke patient will exhibit this sign, it’s important for doctors to check for this.
The A stands for “arms.” In many cases, a stroke patient will have trouble lifting both arms in an “airplane” formation. Doctors may ask the person to raise their arms as if they were making airplane wings. If the person can lift one arm but is unable to lift the opposite arm, it could be evidence of a stroke in progress.
The S is for “speech.” As you might expect from the name, this involves having the patient repeat basic phrases or words, such as their name and address. In other cases, the doctor asks the patient to parrot back a simple sentence. The doctor will look for signs of slurred speech or the inability to repeat the words.
Finally, the T stands for “time.” It reminds health care professionals to act quickly if they suspect someone is suffering from a stroke, as certain types of strokes called ischemic strokes, involve blood clots that obstruct arteries in the brain, depriving the brain of oxygen. If time is wasted, the blood clot can cause permanent brain damage or death. Other types of strokes involve hemorrhage and these may also cause serious permanent injury and death.
Treatments for Stroke
As the CDC states, “The key to stroke treatment and recovery is getting to the hospital quickly.” Depending on what kind of stroke the person is experiencing, doctors may opt to administer a type of medication that breaks up blood clots that are blocking blood flow to the affected area of the brain. The most common medication used is tissue plasminogen activator (“tPA”) which is known as a “clot buster”. This type of medication can be administered intravenously with the first three hours after a stroke. Another type of treatment involves inserting a tube into an artery in the arm or leg and injecting the clot buster directly into the blocked area. These treatments must be done as quickly as possible for the patient to have the highest chance of survival with the smallest amount of damage. The need for urgency is why it’s critical for ER doctors and other health professionals to take patients seriously when they present symptoms of a stroke upon arriving in emergency rooms.
Overcrowded Emergency Rooms and Stroke Misdiagnosis
According to a Reuters report, “Patients are more likely to be misdiagnosed or experience treatment delays when emergency rooms are so crowded that they receive care in a hallway…” In a survey of 440 emergency room doctors, more than 75 percent said they performed an “abbreviated medical history” on a patient when they were forced to treat a patient in the hallway.
These types of shortcuts can cause doctors to miss the important warning signs of a stroke. According to one doctor cited in the Reuters report, “Past work has found that patients treated in overcrowded emergency departments often have delays in medical care and increased risk of medical errors.”
When time is of the essence for stroke patients, any inexcusable delays can mean the difference between life and death.
If you have been misdiagnosed in a New York hospital call Jonathan C. Reiter an experienced NY medical misdiagnosis lawyer.
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.