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Failure To Treat A Stroke

Failure To Treat A Stroke

A stroke is a serious, often life-threatening medical condition. Someone that has suffered a stroke requires urgent medical attention to prevent lasting damage. If the appropriate medical assistance is not provided, however, then it is likely a patient will experience serious complications as a result. If this has happened to you or a loved one, you should contact a medical negligence solicitor to discuss your options.

What Is A Stroke?

A stroke occurs when the brain is not receiving a sufficient amount of oxygen to function. The brain requires oxygen to work properly, and this oxygen is supplied via a steady blood flow. If this flow becomes disrupted because an artery that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked, ruptured, or leaks then the part of the brain that depends on that blood supply will be deficient in oxygen. If this continues, the brain tissue will become damaged and die.

There a two different types of stroke. Firstly, a haemorrhagic stroke involves an artery rupturing or leaking, and is often caused by a weakened blood vessel. Secondly and more commonly is an ischemic stroke, whereby a brain artery becomes blocked, perhaps due to a clot or a build-up of cholesterol.

Symptoms Of A Stroke

Strokes can differ in severity, depending on the type of stroke, the cause, and the size of the affected area of the brain. In some cases there may only be mild weakness, dizziness and a headache. Those who suffer a more serious stroke, however, will present more obvious symptoms, including:-

  • Numbness and/or weakness on one side of the body/face;
  • Facial drooping;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Confusion;
  • Difficulty with co-ordination;
  • Impaired breathing or swallowing;
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Diagnosing And Treating A Stroke

Anyone suspected of having a stroke should be immediately referred to a specialist stroke unit. Here a diagnosis can be made with a number of tests, the most useful of which are brain imaging tools such as a CT scan or MRI scan. Other tests may include a swallow test, as well as heart and blood vessels tests.

Even if it is obvious a patient has suffered a stroke, it is still necessary to carry out these medical examinations in order to ascertain what caused the stroke, what part of the brain has been affected, and how severe the stroke is. All these factors will then determine the course of treatment to be followed. Treatment will therefore vary in each case, but may include prescribing aspirin, anti-coagulants, thrombolysis (to dissolve clots), statins or even surgery.

Arrangements for long-term treatment should then be arranged to rehabilitate the patient from any side-effects that have occurred as a result. This may involve a referral to a number of specialists, such as physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Additionally, a patient may be advised to make changes to their lifestyle such as reducing cholesterol or alcohol intake to help prevent a stroke from happening again.

Medical Negligence And A Stroke

As of December 2007, there have been comprehensive guidelines on how a stroke should be treated. The publication sets out how a stroke can be effectively treated, and advises on the standards of good stroke care. This includes:-

  • A rapid response to a 999 call for suspected stroke;
  • Prompt transfer to a hospital providing specialist care;
  • An urgent brain scan (for example, a CT or MRI scan) to be undertaken as soon as possible;
  • Immediate access to a high quality stroke unit;
  • Early multidisciplinary assessment, including swallowing screening;
  • Specialised stroke rehabilitation;
  • Planned transfer of care from hospital and long-term support.

This protocol was created to prevent permanent disability from a stroke, and to help save lives. If medical staff fail to carry out any of these elements of care to an acceptable standard and a patient's condition is affected as a result, then there has been a breach of duty. This may lead to a successful medical negligence claim being made, with a patient receiving compensation for the pain and suffering caused as a result of the negligent treatment they received.

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"Before we contacted you we had no real idea that we had grounds for a medical negligence claim but after speaking to you if became clear that Wendy was indeed treated poorly. Chris took the time to explain what was happening and kept us to speed. Our deepest gratitude to you all and Chris in particular."

"I would like to say a big thank you to you for making this whole process easy and relatively painless. You kept me informed throughout and you were always polite and courteous in all forms of communication. I would not hesitate to recommend you to friends and family, so a really big thank you and I wish you all the best in the future."

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