According to Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, one person in the United States suffers a stroke every 45 seconds. There were over 750,000 stroke victims in the U.S. in 2007 alone. In addition, stroke is considered the top overall cause of disability in Americans and the third-leading cause of death.
Appropriate medical treatment within the first three hours of stroke symptoms is a key element to a successful recovery. Lasting side effects can be minimized or eliminated when treatment is provided in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, some stroke sufferers do not recognize the symptoms or otherwise fail to seek care, which may worsen the effects. Of course, in other cases, a stroke misdiagnosis by a medical professional can create additional disability and damage.
Why Might a Medical Professional Misdiagnose Stroke?
Stroke is a condition that is often associated with men of advancing age, though a large chunk of sufferers are not elderly. It also affects women in great numbers as well. Stroke does not discriminate, and it’s important that medical professionals do not overlook stroke symptoms because of a patient’s youth, gender, or other factors.
A study at Johns Hopkins University suggests that doctors may be as much as 30 percent more likely to overlook the signs of stroke in women and minorities compared to white males, especially for patients under 45 years old. Such findings lead to the conclusion that cultural assumptions may be a contributing factor to a significant number of stroke misdiagnosis cases.
Of course, patients of any gender, race, or age may be victims of stroke misdiagnosis, and the factors that lead to the misdiagnosis can vary greatly.
What Can I Do If I, or a Loved One, Has Been Misdiagnosed?
If your stroke was misdiagnosed or treatment was administered outside the optimal window because of a delayed diagnosis, you might be suffering long-term, preventable effects. You are probably concerned with how long your recovery will take or whether you will be able to return to normal activities at all.
If your life has been affected by negligent medical diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Speaking with an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases can help you begin the journey of recovering fair compensation.
Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Case for My Stroke Misdiagnosis?
While a misdiagnosis alone might not prove medical malpractice, some cases of misdiagnosis warrant a malpractice suit. Consider the following requirements for proving malpractice in the case of diagnosis errors or delays:
- Did you have an existing relationship with the doctor responsible for your diagnosis? The doctor must have had a duty of care to the patient.
- Was your doctor negligent in any way? Did the doctor provide attentive and competent care? If the doctor did not follow the standard of care, then he or she may be negligent. If doctor did follow a standard of care but misdiagnosed you anyway, then the doctor may not be negligent.
- Did the doctor’s negligence lead to your injuries? If there is no link between the negligence and your worsened condition, then you may not have a malpractice case.
Because it is possible for a doctor to misdiagnose an illness based on a preliminary examination prior to necessary tests and further evaluation by specialists, a malpractice suit must be able to prove that the doctor had adequate information, knowledge, and expertise to be able to diagnose the condition in a more timely or accurate manner.
In addition, faulty test results that occur as a result of malfunctioning diagnostic equipment or technician error can lead to a misdiagnosis. In such cases, a party other than the doctor may be responsible for damages.