Stroke Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

September 23, 2022
Stroke Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Failure to Address Strokes Properly can be Grounds for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Stroke is the fifth most common cause of death in the United States and is a risk that healthcare providers are well aware of. Doctors and other healthcare providers have a set of procedures in place to minimize the risk of morbidity and mortality due to strokes that are very effective when enacted properly. However, failure to follow proper procedure in the face of a potential stroke threat can be considered a form of medical malpractice and be the basis on which someone seeks compensation for related damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit.  Dolman Law Group is a personal injury law firm that specializes in assisting those harmed by medical malpractice that unnecessarily caused the delayed or failed treatment of a stroke with taking legal action. Our medical malpractice lawyers can assist you in determining whether or not medical malpractice may be to blame for issues regarding the treatment of your stroke and also assist in getting you fair compensation for damages you suffered as a result. 

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a dangerous reduction or interruption of blood supply to the brain. The blood vessels leading to your brain can be obstructed or severely narrowed by fatty deposits that build up in the arteries or by blood clots in what is known as an ischemic stroke. In other cases, a stroke can occur because of blood vessels in the brain leaking or rupturing in what is known as a hemorrhagic stroke.  Technically, anyone can suffer a stroke but certain factors significantly increase the chances of one occurring. 
  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette smoking or secondhand smoke exposure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection, or irregular heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation
  • Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack, or transient ischemic attack
  • COVID-19 infection
  • Age 55 and older
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Hypertension

Common Stroke Symptoms

Since strokes reduce or block blood flow to the brain, the resulting disruptions make for urgent symptoms that should prompt immediate medical help. 
  • Numbness or inability to move parts of the face
  • Slurred speech or trouble speaking
  • Difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Intense headache
  • Difficulty or inability to walk
In order to best remember what to do if you suspect a stroke, there is an acronym that can act as a useful mnemonic device called FAST Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to rise? Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange? Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 or emergency medical help immediately.

Procedures in Place to Minimize Stroke Harm

When it comes to strokes, time is of the essence. The earlier a stroke is caught and treated by medical professionals, the lower the chance of morbidity or mortality. In order to get people suffering from a stroke the help they need as soon as possible, every hospital has what is known as a Policy and Procedure for Stroke Alert Protocol These protocols lay the clear groundwork for what should be done and when depending on where in the timeline a stroke is at. Depending on how far along the stroke is, the actions available to treat it can change which can create some dangerous situations when the protocol is not observed. 

tPA Treatment of Strokes Caused by Blood Clots

The primary way that ischemic strokes (strokes caused by blood clot blockages) are treated is through the administration of a tissue plasminogen activator also known as tPA. This is the only FDA- approved treatment for ischemic or thrombotic stroke. Simply put, tPA is a blood thinner that helps to break down clots so that blood can resume flowing to the brain unimpeded. Despite its ability to break down clots responsible for ischemic strokes, tPA does come with some drawbacks.  As a blood thinner tPA comes with some risk since there are a number of conditions that it can cause or make worse if administered. The absence of these conditions needs to be determined in order to safely move forward with the use of tPA. It also needs to be administered within a timeframe of 4.5 hours from the onset of first symptoms otherwise there is a significant risk of complications like hemorrhagic transformation occurring.  The following are health conditions that disqualify someone from receiving tPA for ischemic stroke treatment. 
  • Hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain)
  • Brain aneurysm or AVM
  • Recent surgical procedure
  • Head injuries
  • Bleeding or blood clotting disorders
  • Bleeding ulcers
  • Pregnancy
  • Blood-thinning medication
  • Trauma
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure

The Importance of Time Frame and tPA Stroke Treatment

As mentioned before, stroke treatment protocol has an emphasis on timeframe due to the risks of complications that arise when certain treatments like tPA being administered too late. The first thing that needs to happen is the establishment of a “last known well time” which is the last point in time before the onset of stroke symptoms.  This is the beginning of the 4.5 hour timeframe in which tPA can be administered. If the time of the first onset of stroke symptoms cannot be established then tPA cannot be administered. This immediately disqualifies many people from this form of treatment since those that wake up from sleep cannot have a last well time established. If the last well time is established then an NIH stroke score is performed to evaluate the degree of impairment and deficits caused by a stroke and determine eligibility for tPA treatment.  If the NIH score indicates the need for tPA treatment then next, the possibility of a hemorrhagic stroke needs to be eliminated by performing a CT scan. CT scans do not show ischemic strokes but reveal hemorrhagic ones. If a hemorrhagic stroke is ruled out then a STAT neurology consultation is ordered and a neurologist and ER doctor consult with each other about whether to proceed with tPA treatment. 

Medical Malpractice and tPA Treatment

Doctors, other healthcare professionals, and even healthcare institutions such as hospitals can be liable in the event a patient being treated for a stroke is injured because of deviation from the standard of care. The standard of care is the accepted level of treatment expected of healthcare professionals based on what their peers would do in the same situation. The breach of the standard of care leading to patient injury is the basis for determining medical malpractice and liability in a lawsuit.  Due to the limited time frame for administering tPA for stroke treatment and the multitude of factors that can affect the Policy and Procedure for Stroke Alert Protocol, medical malpractice is a very real risk. The following are some examples of situations that can be considered medical malpractice in situations of treating strokes. 
  • Failure to manage blood pressure in the ED
  • Lowering of blood pressure too quickly causing a low-flow state to the brain
  • Allowing BP to remain too high or too low, resulting in stroke
  • Failure of the nurses to keep the ED doctors advised of change of the patient's clinical condition
  • Failure to timely perform the CT scan
  • Failure to perform the NIH stroke score and/or document last known welltime
  • Failure to give the patient the option of tPA
  • Failure to recognize that a patient's symptoms are consistent with stroke
  • Failure to timely request CT scan, neurosurgery consults, or neurology consults
  • Failure to consider that a patient's change in mentation is related to brain bleed versus alcohol or drug intoxication
  • Failure to rule-out drug or alcohol intoxication with ETOH/Tox screens, which would then place stroke high-up on the differential diagnosis
  • Failure to manage blood pressure and anesthesia during surgery;
  • Failure to anti-coagulate a patient with an A-fib rhythm, which is known to spit out clots 
  • Failure of nursing homes or similar care facilities to transfer patients with stroke symptoms in reasonable time

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

In the event you or a loved one has survived a stroke but come away from the ordeal with severe injuries that could have been avoided had protocol been followed, you could potentially seek compensation for damages via a medical malpractice lawsuit. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can assist you with determining whether or not you have a case and exactly who is liable for the damages you may have suffered like medical bills, lost wages, or mental anguish.  Attempting to seek compensation for stroke treatment medical malpractice on your own can lead to mistakes that can cost you dearly. Without years of experience backed by extensive education in law, you are automatically at a disadvantage.  Insurance companies will also have the playing field skewed in their favor since they have the lawyers and resources to do everything to reduce your compensation. A medical malpractice lawyer levels the playing field and makes sure that your right to compensation is respected at the negotiation table or in court. 

Contact dolman Law Group for Help With Your Stroke Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If you or a loved one suffered a stroke and suffered injuries that could have been avoided had doctors followed protocol, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover damages. Dolman Law Group has been assisting clients with getting maximum compensation for medical malpractice damages for years and can provide you with the award-winning and nationally recognized legal representation you need to have your case succeed.  Consider contacting Dolman Law Group about setting up a free consultation about your case. Our lawyers are ready to listen to the details of your case and provide their insight regarding your options. To schedule a free no-obligation consultation for your case either call our office at 727-451-6900 or fill out our online contact form.  Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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