New Jersey Lawyers Handling Failure To Diagnose Stroke Cases

It is always an alarming experience to suffer a stroke or to witness a family member suffer a stroke. In the first few hours after the onset of a stroke, there is often excellent hope for successful treatment and recovery. Quick action is the key. It is not at all uncommon for a stroke victim or bystander to call a doctor's office or for family members to rush a stroke victim to an emergency room — only to have complaints dismissed. Inattentive triage procedures for a stroke victim in an emergency room can have disastrous results that could have been prevented.

The F.A.S.T. Method Alerts People To Warning Signs Of A Stroke

The American Stroke Association explains the FAST method of alerting bystanders to someone having a stroke:

  • F — Face drooping
  • A — Arm weakness
  • S — Speech difficulty
  • T — Time to call 9-1-1

Example Of Catastrophic Consequences: Locked-In Syndrome

Failure to diagnose a stroke in a timely manner nearly always results in lasting harm for a patient. Some cases involve extraordinarily catastrophic consequences such as locked-in syndrome (LIS). This syndrome, resulting in extreme paralysis, is often caused by strokes. The condition has been succinctly described by medical experts with this explanation:

Locked-in Syndrome (LIS) results from a lesion to the brainstem, most frequently an ischemic pontine lesion. It leads to particularly severe impairments resulting from the complete disruption of the motor pathways controlling eyes, face, trunk and limbs movements, as well as breathing, swallowing and phonation. (Source: Beaudoin N, De Serres L. 2013. Locked-in Syndrome. In: JH Stone, M Blouin, editors. International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation. Available online.)

Two Main Types Of Strokes

Strokes fall under two major categories:

  • Ischemic: Blockage of an artery to the brain, resulting in a lack of fresh blood along with the necessary oxygen and nutrients. Deprived of oxygen-rich blood, a brain often suffers irreversible damage. Prompt administration of thrombolytic therapy through a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or another appropriate medication can break up blood clots and lessen the impact of an ischemic stroke.
  • Hemorrhagic strokes: Bleeding caused by a weakened vessel that ruptures and floods the surrounding brain with blood. Prompt identification of the source of bleeding and aggressive controlling of the bleeding through medication or surgery can mitigate the consequences of a hemorrhagic stroke.

Timely Diagnosis Is Critical

Prompt evaluation with a CT scan or an MRI and appropriate treatment in a certified stroke center is critical to prevent or lessen the permanent brain injury that can occur to the brainstem resulting in LIS. On the other hand, failure to diagnose a stroke can leave a sufferer with a lifetime of extraordinary challenges. A well-prosecuted personal injury claim or lawsuit may be the sufferer's only hope of recovering a meaningful life through appropriate therapies, disability accommodations, personal care attendants, specialized computer software and other assistive technologies and services.

If you believe you suffered lasting harm because a health care provider failed to diagnose your stroke in time to treat it effectively, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

It is highly advisable to work with a medical malpractice law firm that understands the medical aspects of your case just as well as the legal issues involved in a medical malpractice claim. Britcher Leone, LLC, is a valuable source of information for stroke victims and their families when a doctor's failure to diagnose the stroke was a factor.

While we are passionate about representing individual clients who have been injured, we are equally passionate about preventing future injuries by standing up for widely accepted health care standards. One of our firm's partners, Armand Leone, is a licensed physician and attorney. His extensive medical knowledge offers distinct value to our clients through the investigation and litigation stages of a "failure to diagnose stroke" case.