Can You File a Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Over Misdiagnosis of a Stroke?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on May 8, 2024 and updated on June 8, 2024.

older man with serious headacheMisdiagnosis of an illness can be life-threatening, such as when doctors misdiagnose a stroke as something else. Even if the patient survives, he or she could be left with long-term or permanent physical and/or cognitive damage.

Below, our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers explain why strokes are often misdiagnosed and when victims or their loved ones may be able to pursue a medical malpractice case.

Did doctors misdiagnose your illness or do something else that may rise to the level of medical malpractice? Call The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl to discuss your legal options. We have recovered millions in compensation for victims of medical malpractice.

No upfront costs. Contact us today at: 410-297-0271.

Types of Strokes

A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to a portion of your brain like it normally would. There are several kinds of strokes someone could suffer.

  • Ischemic stroke – This refers to blockage of an artery supplying blood to your brain. This is the most common stroke in the U.S.
  • Embolic stroke – This happens when a blood clot that travels from where it originally formed to your brain, blocking an artery the sends blood to your brain.
  • Venous stroke – This is caused by a blood clot that blocks a vein that drains blood from your brain. This blockage creates pressure that may lead to a stroke.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke – When a bleeding blood vessel or artery in or around your brain causes a blood clot, you might suffer a hemorrhagic stroke. Pressure from the blood clot can cause damage to your brain. This type of stroke is the least common among patients in the U.S. but is usually more serious than an ischemic stroke.
  • Cryptogenic stroke – Doctors label any stroke that has no identifiable cause as a cryptogenic stroke.

Signs Someone May Be Suffering a Stroke

Studies suggest that treating someone within three to four and a half hours of the onset of his or her symptoms is critical to preventing long-term physical harm.

Some of the most common signs of a stroke include:

  • Weakness or numbness: Oftentimes, someone suffering a stroke suddenly loses feeling in his or her arms or legs. Sometimes, an entire side of his or her body may go completely numb.
  • Confusion or slurred speech: The pressure or bleeding in your brain during a stroke can affect your ability to speak properly or process your surroundings.
  • Trouble seeing or blurry vision: Damage to your brain can also impact your ability to see, causing you to feel disoriented.
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination: Your motor skills, such as picking up an item with one of your hands, can become severely impaired during a stroke. This is because your brain is unable to effectively communicate with the rest of your body.
  • Severe headache: Sudden pain in your head could be a symptom of the pressure from a blood clot.

How Could Doctors Misdiagnose a Stroke?

Misdiagnosis is often a result of misreading symptoms. For example, doctors may believe the patient’s symptoms are caused by something besides a stroke. This could result in doctors deciding not to request a CRT scan or take other steps to properly identify a stroke.

There are many reasons why doctors could misread symptoms of stroke, such as the fact that some stroke symptoms are associated with many other illnesses. Examples of these kinds of symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Disorientation or confusion

For example, someone who suffers a concussion may experience dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and disorientation. If he or she does not exhibit any of the symptoms more commonly associated with a stroke, it may take longer to determine that a stroke is the cause.

Doctors may be more likely to misdiagnose an illness like a stroke if the patient appears to recover quickly from his or her symptoms, or if the patient is under the age of 55.

Doctors should review the patient’s medical history to determine if there are other risk factors for a stroke, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Previous heart attack
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Heart failure, such as a diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • History of smoking cigarettes
  • Atherosclerosis

If doctors do not review your other health issues or risk factors, they may be more likely to misdiagnose your illness.

When Does Misdiagnosis Become Medical Malpractice in Maryland?

Medical malpractice is about much more than mistakes or expected errors by doctors and others involved in a patients’ treatment. Victims and their lawyers must establish that the medical professionals who treated you failed to perform up to accepted medical standards.

When it comes to misdiagnosing an illness, like a stroke, it may rise to the level of malpractice if:

  • Doctors did not order tests to investigate the cause of your symptoms.
  • They did not review your medical history for risk factors for a stroke.
  • They took too long to evaluate you in the emergency room, putting you at risk for severe or life-threatening complications.
  • Doctors may have misread test results, causing them to diagnose another illness.
  • There were technical errors with medical testing, making it more difficult to determine an accurate diagnosis.
  • Treating the wrong illness with high-risk methods that put the patient at risk for severe injuries.

However, you need to review your situation with an experienced lawyer. He or she can determine if you may have a case and how doctors may have failed to uphold the standard of care. We have the resources to carefully investigate the incident to determine what doctors did and did not do.

Were You the Victim of Misdiagnosis After a Stroke? Call Our Law Firm

At The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl, we have extensive experience with medical malpractice lawsuits, and we have the resources to help victims recover the compensation they need.

We can help you understand your rights and explain your legal options at no upfront cost. Your initial consultation is free.

Unsure if you have a viable case? Call our firm today: 410-297-0271.