Stroke: Misdiagnosis/Delayed Diagnosis
A stroke can be a life-changing event leading to permanent disability, memory problems, and other serious health complications. However, with a timely and correct diagnosis, stroke sufferers can be treated and significantly rehabilitated. Sadly, strokes are commonly misdiagnosed, especially in the young (for whom strokes are rare and therefore doctors often fail to order appropriate testing) and the elderly (for whom strokes are often misinterpreted as other diseases associated with aging). Like all medical negligence cases, those involving stroke misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis are highly complex in nature and replete with opportunities for negligent parties to avoid taking responsibility. We diligently discover the important facts, retain world-class expert witnesses, and methodically prepare stroke misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis cases for trial in a way that maximizes the opportunity for a verdict that provides justice for our clients.
More about strokes…
A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack.” If blood flow is stopped for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get blood and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing permanent damage.
There are two major types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.
Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. This may happen in two ways:
- a clot may form in an artery that is already very narrow — this is called a thrombotic stroke
- a clot may break off from another place in the blood vessels of the brain, or from some other part of the body, and travel up to the brain — this is called cerebral embolism or an embolic stroke
Ischemic strokes may be caused by clogged arteries. Fat, cholesterol and other substances collect on the artery walls, forming a sticky substance called plaque.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in part of the brain becomes weak and bursts open, causing blood to leak into the brain. Some people have defects in the blood vessels of the brain that make this more likely.
Risk Factors for Stroke
High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for strokes. The other major risk factors are:
- atrial fibrillation
- family history of stroke
- high cholesterol
- increasing age, especially after age 55
- race (African Americans are more likely to die of a stroke)
- people who have heart disease or poor blood flow in their legs caused by narrowed arteries are also more likely to have a stroke
- being overweight or obese
- drinking alcohol heavily
- eating too much fat or salt
- taking cocaine and other illegal drugs
- birth control pills (increases the chances of having blood clots)
Stroke symptoms depend on what part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not know that he or she has had a stroke. Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning, but sometimes occur on and off for the first day or two. Symptoms are usually most severe when the stroke first happens, but they may slowly get worse.
A headache may occur, especially if the stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain. The headache:
- starts suddenly and may be severe
- occurs when you are lying flat
- wakes you up from sleep
- gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain or cough
Other symptoms depend on how severe the stroke is and what part of the brain is affected and may include:
- change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness and coma)
- changes in hearing
- changes in taste
- changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure or different temperatures
- confusion or loss of memory
- difficulty swallowing
- difficulty writing or reading
- dizziness or abnormal feeling of movement (vertigo)
- lack of control over the bladder or bowels
- loss of balance
- loss of coordination
- muscle weakness in the face, arm or leg (usually just on one side)
- numbness or tingling on one side of the body
- personality, mood or emotional changes
- problems with eyesight, including decreased vision, double vision or total loss of vision
- trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking
- trouble walking
If a stroke is suspected, your doctor may:
- check for problems with vision, movement, feeling, reflexes, understanding and speaking
- listen for an abnormal sound, called a “bruit,” when using a stethoscope to listen to the carotid arteries in the neck
- check your blood pressure (which may be high)
- order an angiogram of the head (which can show a blocked or bleeding blood vessel is blocked or bleeding)
- order a carotid duplex (ultrasound), which can show if the carotid arteries in your neck have narrowed
- order a CT or MRI scan of the brain
- order an echocardiogram (which may show whether the stroke could have been caused by a blood clot from the heart)
- order a magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or CT angiography to check for abnormal blood vessels in the brain
The recovery time and need for long-term treatment is different for each person. Problems moving, thinking and talking often improve in the weeks and months after a stroke. Some stroke victims—especially those who receive timely and proper medical care—will keep improving in the months or years after the stroke and may return to their normal lives. However, for the patients, young and old, who are not properly diagnosed and treated by healthcare providers, the outcome, and the prospect for a return to normal daily living, are grim.
If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of a stroke misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, we can obtain the necessary medical records and have an expert physician review the file free of charge to determine whether a doctor or other healthcare provider was negligent.
Davis Adams, LLC only represents medical malpractice victims.
$40 million in verdicts and settlements validates our commitment to doing one thing—medical malpractice litigation—and doing it well. We don’t claim to be a jack of all legal trades. In fact, to our knowledge, Davis Adams is the only law firm in Georgia that only represents victims of medical negligence. It’s all we do. And while that fact alone does not necessarily make us better than every other lawyer handling medical malpractice cases, it does mean that our focus is laser sharp on this area of the law. We are immersed in medical litigation every day, quickly spotting trends as they develop, pioneering new legal strategies and tactics to combat the ever changing insurance defense industry and constantly discussing our clients’ cases with leading medical experts around the country. So instead of dividing our time and energy between auto accidents, business disputes and the occasional medical case, we are constantly honing our skills as medical malpractice attorneys.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Davis Adams can help, whether you are located in the Atlanta area or any other part of Georgia.
Davis Adams has two offices: one overlooking downtown Atlanta from the 33rd floor of Centennial Tower, and the other a few miles east in Decatur, Ga.—but our reach is statewide. We routinely represent clients in Macon, Savannah, Columbus, Albany and other cities from Valdosta to Dalton. Wherever you reside in Georgia, when selecting a medical malpractice attorney, we believe that choosing an expert in medical negligence cases is more important that simply hiring the closest attorney. As a client, you have one opportunity to obtain justice, and we are always honored when that chance it entrusted to us.
What is my medical malpractice case worth?
The vast majority of prospective clients we meet contact us reluctantly. Contrary to the media’s unflattering portrayal of some who file lawsuits, most of our clients are not eager to sue hospitals or doctors, and they understand that money is almost always a poor substitute for one’s health lost as result of a medical error. But the only remedy available through the civil justice system is financial compensation; it’s the only form of “justice” the law allows under these circumstances. After the discovery process has been completed and we have dissected our findings, as we prepare a case for mediation or trial we provide our client with guidance as to the fair value of his or her case. The monetary value of a case depends on the level of injury our client suffers. Injuries take many forms, including:
- Economic damages, including:
- Past medical bills
- Future/projected medical expenses, including life-care plans
- Past lost income
- Future lost income
- Non-economic damages, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (companionship)
- The “full value” of a life (in cases involving death as a result of a medical error)
When Davis Adams agrees to represent a medical malpractice victim, we have one simple demand of the defendants: that our client is paid fairly for what he or she has endured. We cannot, and will not, accept anything less than the full measure of justice to which our client is entitled. Often cases are settled at mediation, which allows our client to avoid the risk of trial and to end their case with some measure of certainty. Other times, mediation is unsuccessful, and we proceed to trial and ask a jury to determine our client’s compensation. More than half of our $40 million in recovered funds is the result of trial verdicts, meaning that the attorneys hired to defend doctors and hospitals know that we are fully prepared to meet them in a courtroom if the case cannot otherwise be resolved to our clients’ satisfaction.
Our philosophy: fewer cases, more personal attention, better results.
Jess Davis and Chad Adams decline to handle the vast majority of cases presented to their firm. And while it may seem counterintuitive to turn down business, Davis Adams is committed to doing outstanding, hands-on work for a limited number of catastrophically injured clients instead of employing a team of less experienced associate attorneys to churn through a high volume workload. We simply refuse to become one of those law firms at which the experienced trial lawyers only get involved in the later stages of the case, if at all. From day one, our clients have the collective time, attention, energy, and experience of the seasoned medical malpractice attorneys who will be handling their case at trial, which translates to better representation, and better financial recoveries. From time to time other lawyers will ask, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to hire some young associate attorneys to handle the unimportant parts of your cases?” That question represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how medical malpractice cases are won or lost, and emphasizes the importance of hiring an experienced medical negligence attorney. There are no unimportant tasks in the cases we handle; victory is always in the details and is never achieved at the maximum level without bringing to bear the full weight of our firm’s substantial medical negligence experience, dogged determination and blatant refusal to settle for less than our clients deserve.
We do not accept payment unless our client recovers money.
Davis Adams represents medical malpractice victims on a contingency basis, which means that if we do not recover money for our clients, we will not accept payment for our services. Additionally, our contingency fee, while reflective of our firm’s quality and success, is less than the 50% fee charged by some firms. We simply are not comfortable with earning a fee in a case that is equal to the recovery of our injured client, and therefore have refused to increase our fee.