Denver Hemorrhagic and Ischemic Stroke Attorneys
An ischemic stroke occurs when there is an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. The obstruction stops blood flow to a certain area of the brain, resulting in damage. The obstruction is usually caused by a blood clot; however, blood flow can also be affected by stenosis, the narrowing of the artery. Around 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes.
While all ischemic strokes involve this interruption of blood flow to the brain, there are two main types: an embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot, a piece of plaque, or another object, forms somewhere else in the body and travels to the brain’s blood vessels; a thrombotic stroke occurs when a clot forms inside one of the blood vessels inside the brain.
The severity of an ischemic stroke is largely determined by the speed in which the stroke is diagnosed and treated. Because an ischemic stroke blocks blood flow to the brain, removing the blockage is crucial to lessening the effects on the patient’s brain.
Unfortunately, diagnosing and treating ischemic strokes is also where doctors and other healthcare providers make the most errors. Nearly 10% of strokes are misdiagnosed in United States emergency departments, according to Neurology Today. Stroke is the fourth most common misdiagnosis among major diagnostic errors. When a physician misdiagnoses a stroke or makes another error related to an ischemic stroke, he or she may be guilty of medical malpractice.
Doctors and other healthcare professionals should know to look for symptoms of stroke, known under the acronym FAST:
- Facial drooping – can’t smile normally
- Arm weakness – can’t keep arms lifted
- Speech difficulties – can’t speak normally
- Time – if the previous symptoms are observed, time is of the essence to start treatment!
These symptoms point to neurological issues, which can be caused by the loss of blood flow to the brain during an ischemic stroke.
When a doctor suspects a stroke, he or she should order a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis and to determine if the stroke is ischemic. Ischemic stroke patients are often given a drug known as tPA, which works to dissolve the clot causing the stroke and to improve blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow. tPA is time-sensitive and failure to provide this treatment in a timely manner may be negligent.
When a doctor brushes off signs of a stroke or does not quickly and efficiently conduct testing, there can be significant delays in treatment. These delays are life-changing in stroke treatment, because brain damage worsens drastically as time moves forward (American Stroke Association).
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bleeds. This could be an aneurysm or a weakened blood vessel that is leaking. Either of these events cause blood to spill into or around the brain, creating swelling and pressure. This pressure damages the cells and tissues in the brain. Only 15% of all strokes are hemorrhagic, but they are responsible for about 40% of all stroke deaths.
There are two main types of hemorrhagic stroke: an intracerebral hemorrhage, which happens inside the brain, when a blood vessel bursts and leaks blood into surrounding brain tissue; and a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which happens in the area between the brain and the tissue covering the brain, known as the subarachnoid space, most commonly caused by a burst aneurysm (National Stroke Association).
There are a number of ways in which a healthcare provider’s mistreatment of a patient can lead to hemorrhagic stroke. The primary cause, like with ischemic stroke, is Missed Diagnosis. This is when a doctor fails to do thorough testing and does not diagnose the stroke in a timely manner. We had a case in which a patient’s cerebral aneurysm was missed by a radiologist and by an ER physician, who failed to order a mandatory follow-up test. The aneurysm burst about a week later, which ended up paralyzing her. We achieved a substantial settlement to pay for her care and other losses she suffered.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney will work to prove that your doctor did not meet the standard of care for ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke treatment, meaning he or she did not meet the level of care expected by a typical physician under the same circumstances.
In order to prove medical malpractice, your lawyer will do their best to prove that the doctor and/or nurses that handled your care were negligent, meaning they failed to use reasonable care in treating you, causing you harm. In a typical medical malpractice case, there are three elements required to prove negligence:
- The doctor-patient relationship existed.
- The treatment involved negligence.
- The patient’s injury was a direct result of the negligent treatment.
Your lawyer will most likely use an expert medical witness, typically a physician who specializes in stroke treatment, to explain how and why the medical malpractice occurred. If you suspect you have a case, please contact Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. as soon as possible. There are deadlines to file a lawsuit, which vary by state.
Ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes are a serious but common health condition. Doctors and nurses should be well-equipped to recognize the signs of a stroke, use testing to diagnose it, and treat it quickly and accurately. When they fail to do so, they are allowing brain tissue to die, causing critical brain damage.
If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice related to ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, you should be compensated for your medical bills, lost time at work, and decrease in quality of life.
If you’d like to discuss your experience and potential case with a knowledgeable and experienced Denver medical malpractice attorney, please call the office of Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. at (303) 759-9945. There is no charge for an initial consultation.