Medical malpractice lawsuits come in many forms. Although your situation may seem utterly unique to you, the reality is that your case might be just one of many that occurred under similarly tragic circumstances. This is especially true if you’ve suffered from a stroke.
Like many other malpractice victims, you might find yourself wondering how or if you’ll ever bounce back. Make sure you understand the following if you or a loved one is struggling to cope after suffering a stroke or receiving a misdiagnosis.
Strokes are among the most common causes of death in the U.S. According to the Mayo Clinic, these medical emergencies occur when blood vessels in the brain rupture or get severely clotted. Both outcomes can cause immediate symptoms, including
- Confusion, difficulty processing spoken language or trouble understanding speaking,
- Balance, mobility and inner ear problems,
- Serious headaches for no reason,
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis of your face, arm or leg, especially on one side of your body, and
- Visual distortions and swallowing difficulty.
Another form of heart condition called the transient ischemic attack, or TIA, occurs when clots get stuck in the arteries that usually send blood to your brain. The lack of oxygen to your brain can result in typical symptoms, such as an inability to speak clearly or muscle weakness. Unlike strokes, TIAs only last for a few minutes, but this doesn’t make them any less worthy of prompt medical attention.
Why Is Malpractice Such an Issue for Stroke Sufferers?
Strokes and TIAs can occur in many parts of the brain, and their outcomes vary widely depending on the sufferer’s prior health status. If you have a family history of strokes, heart attacks or TIAs, then you might be more prone to experiencing them in the future.
Strokes and TIAs are survivable, but only with prompt action. For instance, although starting a rehab program, managing your diabetes, controlling your blood pressure and engaging in routine exercise can all help you prevent future incidents, these solutions only work with medical supervision.
Time Matters With Strokes and TIAs
After a stroke, it’s vital that doctors rapidly restore your brain’s blood supply. Depending on your condition, they may also have to perform surgeries to remove the clots, expand the artery and repair any damaged blood vessels.
The longer you wait to deal with stroke damage, the more likely you are to experience more severe complications. In other words, it’s essential to get diagnosed as early and correctly as possible.
What Constitutes Malpractice?
Contrary to popular belief, malpractice goes beyond giving patients the wrong medicines. It can also occur when a doctor makes a wrong diagnosis or fails to respond to your symptoms with care that satisfies generally accepted professional standards. For instance, medical experts note that even short delays between when patients enter the hospital and start receiving stroke-specific treatment can result in irreversible harm to the brain.
It’s also worth noting the difference between a malpractice diagnosis and one that’s simply wrong. Incorrect medical opinions are common, but competent caregivers always followup by verifying their assumptions. For instance, your doctor might tell you that you suffer from another condition with similar symptoms and then revise their opinion to a TIA diagnosis following further testing. What’s unacceptable from a professional — and legal — standpoint is when doctors fail to meet the standard of care by
- Delaying treatment,
- Failing to provide specialized stroke or TIA treatment, or
- Ignoring risk factors, such as a patient’s family history, personal habits or previous record of circulatory issues.
One of the biggest problems with malpractice is that it often results in unnecessary procedures. In addition to the fact that strokes already feature high-risk symptoms, their location inside the brain heightens the risks of mistreatment, such as incorrect surgeries.
What Are Your Options?
Because prompt, proper care is so critical to surviving a stroke, misdiagnosis is a particularly serious issue. Unfortunately, the law still requires victims and their families to jump through a few hoops in pursuit of justice. For instance, plaintiffs need to file “Affidavits of Merit” stating that their attorneys reviewed their cases with qualified medical professionals. Under the state’s statute of limitations for personal injuries, they also have to start their lawsuits within two years of finding out that their providers acted negligently.If victims wait longer than two years to file, they lose the right to take legal action.
It’s entirely possible to lead a full, vibrant life after a stroke or TIA, but your odds are far worse when you receive the wrong treatment. If you suspect that you were victimized by malpractice, then you need to talk to a lawyer soon.