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The Misdiagnosis Of A Stroke Isn’t A Mild Mistake

Stacy Quinn didn’t look the part. Young and in perfect health, she never imagined she was having a stroke. Neither did her doctors, even though she rushed to the hospital with a severe headache and slurred speech. One doctor thought it was just a migraine and stress. Another thought the problem was an ear infection. Little did she know that her real problem was a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a mini stroke. The doctors’ negligent misdiagnosis of a stroke could have cost Quinn her life. 

Has a health practitioner failed to recognize that you or a loved one were having a stroke? Are you dealing with permanent after-effects, long-term care expenses, or rehabilitation because of misdiagnosis? Contact Hampton & King to begin the process of filing a stroke misdiagnosis lawsuit. We specialize in medical malpractice and may be able to obtain a stroke malpractice settlement for you.

Woman receives speech therapy after stroke.

Stroke Signs & Misdiagnosis

A stroke is a serious medical condition in which blood supply is cut off from part of the brain. This can result in brain cells dying within mere minutes. A person can lose important brain functions temporarily or permanently. That’s why it’s so important to catch the warning signs of a stroke.  

What are the warning signs? You may have heard of these before: 

  • Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Vision changes
  • Fainting

The problem is that all those issues are symptoms of other illnesses too. That’s why doctors may mistake a stroke for something else. They might also be guilty of patient profiling. This is when a doctor doesn’t think a patient has a certain illness just because they don’t “look the part”. That’s what happened in Stacy Quinn’s case. 

When you think of a stroke, whom do you picture as a “typical” victim? An elderly man? It’s true that older men can and do suffer from strokes. But young women like Quinn can have them too. In fact, women actually have a higher lifetime risk of stroke than men. According to a 2019 report from the American Heart Association, 60 percent of stroke deaths are in women. One in five women will have a stroke in their lifetime. 

How Misdiagnosis Of A Stroke Can Occur

There are three ways misdiagnosis of a stroke might happen. The first is when a doctor fails to recognize a stroke while it’s happening, or after it has happened. The second is when a doctor doesn’t see the signs that a stroke is about to happen. The third is diagnosing a different condition as a stroke. That is the least common circumstance. 

All three types of misdiagnosis can have devastating consequences. Any time such a serious condition is misdiagnosed, there’s a delay in treatment. A patient may end up with a permanent injury or disability. In the worst case scenario, a victim passes away because doctors don’t diagnose the stroke in time. 

Here are some specific reasons why doctors might misdiagnose a stroke:

  • They fail to read test results correctly. 
  • Doctors don’t order the right tests, or any tests at all. 
  • Patient profiling occurs. For example, a doctor doesn’t consider stroke as a diagnosis because the patient is young. 
  • Doctors fail to perform a complete physical examination. 
  • A laboratory error occurs. 
  • A practitioner doesn’t consult a neurological specialist or send the patient to a specialist. 
  • The doctor doesn’t ask for or take into account a patient’s full medical history.

What Happens When Doctors Misdiagnose A Stroke?

In the United States, someone dies from a stroke every four minutes. Strokes cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time. When doctors misdiagnose a stroke, precious minutes that could save a person’s life are wasted. 

Strokes are also a leading cause of disability. Failing to recognize a stroke while it’s happening can leave a patient with neurological issues. A certain part of the body might stay paralyzed for life. The person might lose the ability to speak, see, or remember. They might have cognitive or emotional problems. Not to mention pain and suffering.

When doctors misdiagnose a stroke, patients often end up returning to the ER or the hospital. They might come back several times until they receive the right diagnosis. Hospital bills pile up. The emotional strain of not knowing what’s wrong wreaks havoc on families. This is why many families seek legal recourse. Stroke malpractice settlements can provide them with much needed funds to pick up the pieces of their lives. 

How Often Does Misdiagnosis Of A Stroke Happen?

According to a Johns Hopkins University study, misdiagnosis of stroke happens to between 15,000 and 165,000 people per year. It’s impossible to get an exact number, because hospitals or state governments don’t always report cases of misdiagnosis. 

The study also found that doctors misdiagnose women 33% more often than men. Minorities are the victims of stroke misdiagnosis more often than their majority counterparts. Half of stroke misdiagnosis victims came back to the ER within 7 days. 

Binti Lee’s Story 

After a hospital failed to treat her for a stroke, Binti Lee’s life changed forever. She has difficulty putting words together, and her boyfriend often has to help her finish her sentences. Once an able-bodied gym regular, she now relies on others to help her do simple tasks. 

In 2012, Lee rushed to Houston Methodist hospital with textbook stroke symptoms. But the doctors might as well have been wearing blindfolds. They sent Lee home, despite the fact that she was slurring her speech and had drooping face muscles. 

The next day, her boyfriend drove her to a different hospital. Doctors at the new hospital recognized she had suffered from a stroke right away. But it was too late. The damage had already been done. 

Had Lee’s doctors at the first hospital recognized her symptoms, she may have made a full recovery. Because of Houston Methodist’s negligence, Lee would deal with the stroke’s aftereffects for the rest of her life. It was a case of blatant malpractice, and her only recourse would be to seek a stroke malpractice settlement. 

A gavel and doctor's stethoscope.

Stroke Malpractice Settlements

In 2014, Binti Lee sued Houston Methodist for misdiagnosis of a stroke. Like Lee, thousands of victims have sought stroke malpractice settlements from negligent hospitals and doctors. 

Suing for malpractice after misdiagnosis of a stroke can lead to large payouts. One review of malpractice litigation found that the average payout for stroke malpractice settlements was $1, 802,693. The average payout for plaintiffs when stroke malpractice cases went to court was $9,705,099.

Did your hospital fail to recognize you or your loved one were having a stroke? Was treatment offered too late? Was a stroke the cause of irreparable harm or result in your loved one passing away? If so, you may be eligible for a stroke malpractice settlement. You may file a lawsuit against your health care provider with the help of a qualified malpractice lawyer. 

But don’t just settle for any lawyer. Stroke malpractice cases are complicated. They require the expertise of a firm that’s knowledgeable about medical issues. Contact Hampton & King to discuss your case for free today. You don’t have to take on this fight alone. We’re on your side!