Why do medical providers fail to diagnose strokes?

by | Aug 27, 2020 | Medical malpractice

A stroke is a common condition that most people know at least something about. They know that it causes people to speak oddly or that one side of the face may droop. With such common symptoms and good education, the surprising thing is that many strokes are still misdiagnosed in emergency rooms.

There are a few reasons for those misdiagnoses. They may include:

  • Feeling a patient is too young to be having a stroke.
  • Noticing only milder conditions of stroke, like headaches or vertigo, and believing the illness is a cold, migraine or other related illness.
  • Overlapping symptoms, such as dizziness or nonspecific neurological complaints.

When a patient comes to the emergency room, they need to be as descriptive of their pain or illness as they can. For example, a stroke has rapid-onset symptoms, which is something that the medical provider needs to know.

According to Neurology Today, a stroke is the fourth most common illness to be misdiagnosed. Misdiagnosis rates are as high as 64% in some studies. Those studies also showed that patients with obvious symptoms, like drooping faces and slurred speech, aren’t normally misdiagnosed. Instead, it is the patients with dizziness or non-localized symptoms who end up struggling to get the correct diagnosis.

One professor suggested that paying more attention to stroke mimics, or diseases that imitate strokes, could help medical providers identify strokes accurately and know when to seek imaging tests for their patients.

If you are misdiagnosed and are having a stroke, there is a chance that you could suffer greater brain injury and even pass away. If you are hurt due to a misdiagnosis, or if you are someone who lost a loved one to a misdiagnosed stroke, then you may have the right to seek compensation.