ERNST & YOUNG
A stroke is a medical emergency, regardless of its underlying cause. If untreated, patients could sustain brain damage, leaving the patient with a lifelong disability or cause demise. While medical practitioners should always watch out for any possibility of the condition, most don’t. In fact, a good number of patients that struggle with strokes are misdiagnosed or have their diagnoses delayed before getting the necessary treatment.
This guide takes you through the condition, your hospital’s liability for the injuries, and how to hold the facility accountable.
What Is a Stroke?
This severe condition happens when blood supply to the brain is halted or when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain. At this moment, inadequate oxygen-rich blood could damage or kill brain cells.
Brain cells need oxygen to function correctly. Despite comprising only 2% of the body mass, this part consumes about 20% of the oxygen you inhale. Arteries also supply oxygenated blood to the brain, and any blockage or interruption to normal blood flow could lead to a stroke.
The condition’s primary symptoms include:
- Peripheral vision loss
- Visual perception challenges
- Mood swings and lost emotional control
- Personality or behavioral changes
- Memory loss
- Dysphagia (problems swallowing)
- Issues with judgment and problem solving
- Paralysis or weakness on one section of the body
- Lastly, Dysarthria (difficulty speaking)
Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis
Strokes are prevalent among older patients, mainly those beyond 55 years, and are common among men. But these assumptions cause bias among medical professionals.
Often, a female patient or a young man may visit a hospital while displaying stroke symptoms. Most likely, they’ll be misdiagnosed or have to wait longer for a proper diagnosis. Both scenarios could lead to severe avoidable complications.
For instance, one stroke symptom that’s common in younger patients is an intense headache. But a negligent healthcare provider can assume that the unlikely patient is suffering a migraine. Thus, they’ll prescribe painkillers instead of considering the possibility of a stroke and conducting proper tests.
This short duration without medical attention could worsen the condition and inflict permanent damage. That’s why a competent doctor with your best interest at heart will keep you in the facility to continue monitoring you and conducting the relevant tests.
Medical Malpractice and Strokes
Just like a harrowing accident can lead to stroke, so can medical expert malpractice. When another person’s negligence leads to someone’s brain injury, the victim has the right to file a medical malpractice legal claim. The same applies to improper diagnosis and treatment of stroke.
Compensation awarded after a personal injury or wrongful death case for the surviving family can cover the medical bills, lost income, physical pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or even punitive damages.
For the court to consider the medical practitioner as negligent, you must prove that they failed to:
- Prevent the condition: including failing to issue the correct medication or follow protocol when instructing a patient to pause their prescription before a procedure
- Treat the condition immediately, like misdiagnosis.
- Administer TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) that dissolves blood clots
Notably, the Coronavirus situation has increased the risk level in healthcare facilities. Hospitals are now overcrowded and understaffed, increasing the chances of misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis by physicians.
Hospital Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases
After a serious medical malpractice injury, typically, more than one party will be at fault. Most likely, the doctor or surgeon made a mistake, or other staff within the facility caused the patient’s grievance. As such, the hospital itself can be liable in a medical malpractice suit.
If you suffered a stroke in such circumstances, you could successfully recover against the particular hospital in three ways:
- By proving the hospital’s direct liability for malpractice through negligent hiring, supervision, and managing physicians and other staff
- Through “vicarious liability”, a legal concept which insists that a facility is directly responsible for its staff’s negligence
- Through “ostensible agency”, where you were counting on the facility for the proper healthcare, and you reasonably believe that a hospital employee made a mistake.
According to the vicarious liability concept, the law holds the hospital culpable for the doctors’ and employees’ actions. This means the hospital is accountable for any doctor’s negligence.
Furthermore, even if an employee isn’t directly linked to the hospital, but the situation suggests they are, the hospital is still responsible. For instance, if a physician works as an independent contractor but enjoys the privilege to handle patients, the facility is still liable for their mistakes (Grewe v. Mt. Clemens).
What Monetary Damages Can You Recover After a Stroke
CDC statistics indicate that strokes cost the US about $34 billion annually. This includes healthcare service costs, treatment medications, and lost productivity.
The condition hinders mobility in more than 50% of survivors beyond 65 years. Therefore, victims must attend rehabilitation therapy following the diagnosis at a nursing facility, outpatient clinic, hospital, or home. Stroke treatment can cause costly medical bills and accumulated lost wages when receiving therapy.
Notably, the condition is among the primary causes of severe life-long disability in the US. In extreme cases, patients may not recover muscle strength, mobility, and speech. Furthermore, disability may permanently prevent them from returning to work.
With this in mind, if you believe that another person’s negligence made you or a loved one suffer a stroke, you can seek compensation. You can pursue the following damages:
- Present and future medical costs
- Present and future lost income
- Long term healthcare costs
- Long term incapacitation
- Physical pain and suffering
- Lastly, loss of enjoyment of life
If the stroke victim succumbs, the surviving loved ones can proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit to claim:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
Holding a Hospital Accountable for Your Stroke Injuries
Your healthcare provider is obliged to provide the utmost care. Indeed, it’s unacceptable for a physician to ignore apparent symptoms considering a stroke is a severe medical emergency. If you or a loved experienced misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis that led to severe damages, you deserve to be fairly compensated. However, getting the deserved compensation will require a skilled attorney’s expertise, and that’s where Weltchek Mallahan & Weltchek Trial Attorneys come in. We consider negligence among physicians unacceptable, and our experienced attorneys are ready for a tooth and nail battle to ensure you get a deserved compensation.
Who Can You Trust with Your Case?
Have you or a loved one been injured due to negligence? We want to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you believe you have a case; time is an important factor. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us so we can better evaluate and serve your needs in getting the justice your loved one deserves. You may very well be entitled to compensation.
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