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The Consequences of a Stroke Misdiagnosis

June 05, 2017

Three hours to save your life.

If you’re the victim of an ischemic stroke, that’s all the time you have.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you’ve suffered an ischemic stroke, intravenous, clot-busting drugs must be given to you within three hours. Treatment within this three-hour window not only increases your survival chances, but it may also decrease your post-stroke complications. But what happens if your doctor misdiagnoses your stroke? If this happens, you could lose those three critical, life-saving hours.

Two Types of Stokes

Stoke treatment depends on the type of stroke you’re having: an ischemic stroke or a hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke (the more common type) occurs when a clot blocks an artery, while a hemorrhagic stroke involves bleeding into the brain

Emergency treatment for an ischemic stroke focuses on restoring blood to the brain. This can involve medication (such as aspirin), intravenous injections, medication delivered directly to the brain or the clot’s physical removal. For a hemorrhagic stroke, emergency treatment centers on bleeding control and brain-pressure reduction.

A Stroke Misdiagnosis: The Dangers

A John Hopkins report found that nearly 13% of stroke victims were previously misdiagnosed by ER doctors. In these instances, stroke symptoms, including dizziness or headaches, were misdiagnosed as harmless conditions, such as an ear infection or migraine.

When a doctor misdiagnoses a stroke, critical, possibly life-saving, treatment is delayed. This affects a stroke victim’s chances of survival and recovery. Consequently, a misdiagnosis can often lead to catastrophic injuries in a stroke victim.

Tragedies that can occur when a doctor misdiagnoses a stroke include:

  • Death
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Cognitive problems, such as memory loss
  • Communication problems, such as an inability to talk
  • Loss of sight
  • Permanent loss of balance or mobility.


Have you or a loved one suffered an injury because of stroke misdiagnosis? If so, call us at 412-471-4300, or email us. Berger Lagnese & Paul, LLC has an experienced team of lawyers and doctors that specializes in medical malpractice. We help residents in Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Beaver, Erie, Uniontown, Washington and throughout Western Pennsylvania.

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