Was ER Negligence to Blame for Misdiagnosing Your Stroke?

headache may be stroke symptomMany people who experience stroke symptoms don’t know what’s happening to them. They know they aren’t feeling normal and some may have symptoms such as confusion and weakness, but it may never occur to them that they are experiencing a stroke; however, because they know something isn’t right, they have someone drive them to the emergency room or they call 9-1-1 for help.

Once at an emergency room (ER), people expect that they will be monitored and treated for their health conditions and not made worse. However, sometimes emergency rooms are overcrowded, understaffed, and run poorly and critical mistakes can occur. People who are experiencing signs of a stroke may be misdiagnosed or discharged too quickly. This is why it is critical to know the signs of a stroke in an effort to save your or someone else’s life.

Stroke Symptoms to Know

Most stroke symptoms come on fast, as a person can go from being fine to suddenly experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulties talking
  • Sudden confusion and trouble understanding
  • Inability to bear weight, balance, and walk
  • Dizziness and trouble with coordination
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes
  • Numbness or weakness in one side of the body
  • Painful headache

Although emergency room staff are well aware of stroke signs and symptoms and know that fast medical care can mean the difference between life and death, sometimes nurses and doctors misdiagnose stroke symptoms as another health condition. For example, someone who complains of a serious headache and dizziness may be diagnosed with a migraine. This often happens to women—one of the two groups of people who are often misdiagnosed when it comes to strokes.

You may be surprised to learn that 55,000 more women experience strokes than men each year, according to stroke.org. But because many people think of strokes happening to men or older people, middle-aged women often get misdiagnosed. This also occurs because women sometimes have different stroke symptoms that can lead to a misdiagnosis, such as:

  • Overall weakness and/or pain
  • Agitation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden behavioral change

Adverse Effects of a Missed Stroke

When stroke symptoms are confused for something else, treatment of a stroke is delayed. When someone doesn’t receive treatment within the first three hours of experiencing a stroke symptom, the truth of the matter is that treatment might not be effective. Unfortunately, when a stroke is missed or misdiagnosed in the ER, a person can suffer permanent adverse effects, such as:

  • Trouble speaking and understanding
  • Paralysis or some type of loss of movement or impairment
  • Vision loss
  • Behavioral changes
  • Memory loss
  • Some form of long-term disability

If a negligent ambulance worker, ER nurse, or ER doctor failed to recognize stroke symptoms and you or a loved one suffered because treatment was not provided in time, you need to seek legal advice. You may never be the same physically, emotionally, or financially after a stroke. Sadly, the effects of a stroke can mean a lifetime of wage losses, recovery and treatment, and living with a disability.

Because medical care and loss of income can cause extreme financial burden for the person who experienced a stroke, it is essential to bring a claim against the negligent medical worker and hospital for the poor care you or a loved one received in the ER. Because laws surrounding medical malpractice can be complex, it is best to speak with an attorney experienced in medical malpractice. To get your questions answered, please feel free to call us or fill out a short form online to request a free copy of our book, What You Need to Know Before Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Case.