Strokes kill approximately 150,000 Americans each year. Several hundred
thousand more suffer disabilities due to a stroke. Most strokes occur
when the artery that supplies blood to the brain is blocked, usually by
blood clots. Blood clots can occur as a result of surgery, heart disorders
including atrial fibrillation, and heredity. Without prompt treatment,
the blockage prevents oxygenated blood from reaching the brain. An anoxic
brain injury occurs when the brain does not receive oxygen. These brain injuries affect
physical, intellectual, and emotional abilities as well as speech and
communication. The longer the brain goes without oxygenated blood, the
more severe the disabilities.
Symptoms of stroke can include:
- Sudden weakness or paralysis, often in one side of the body
- Sudden blurred vision or vision loss, affecting either one or both eyes
- Sudden difficulty speaking and thinking – for example, an individual
having a stroke may have trouble dialing 911
- Sudden numbness or unusual sensations in the face and body
- Sudden severe headache
Studies have shown that
nearly two million neurons are lost for each minute the brain is without oxygen. Each minute is critical when
it comes to treating a stroke, and physicians and emergency personnel
need to treat these symptoms aggressively.
To further complicate the scenario, some strokes result from bleeding within
the brain and must be treated differently. The wrong type of treatment
can actually worsen the damage to the brain. In these cases, treatment
involves finding and closing the site of any bleeding, as well as lowering
the blood pressure.
Proper treatment for an ischemic stroke caused by blood clots is the administration
of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The tPA dissolves the clots and
allows for free blood flow back to the brain. Other times, small devices
are used to break up the clots into smaller pieces. The earlier these
treatments are started, the more complete the recovery.
Medical Malpractice Involving Stroke Victims
Medical malpractice during a stroke can occur in a number of different
ways. Often, physicians and emergency personnel overlook symptoms of stroke
and fail to make a proper diagnosis quickly. The minutes and hours tick
by, and the damage to the brain continues to worsen. Sometimes strokes
are not recognized and are mistreated. For example, a patient presenting
with a severe headache, vision difficulties, and confusion may be misdiagnosed
with a migraine. In such cases, proper testing and care is delayed. The
longer physicians wait to prescribe treatment with tPA when indicated,
the more likely severe brain damage will result.
Malpractice may also occur when physicians fail to order anticoagulant
therapy for individuals with atrial fibrillation. These individuals are
more prone to develop dangerous blood clots, and are at risk for stroke.
Failure to monitor blood pressure during surgery can also result in stroke.
Anesthesiologists must monitor vital signs closely during surgery to prevent
a stroke from occurring.
If you suffered from a stroke and did not receive prompt medical treatment
or were misdiagnosed, or if you lost a loved one due to a stroke that
was not properly treated, contact an experienced
medical malpractice attorney at the Angel Law Firm today either
online or by phone at 503-862-8666.