Stroke-related death, serious injury or permanent impairment caused by medical negligence or malpractice can be difficult to spot. If you’ve suffered physical or psychological damage due to the misdiagnosis, improper diagnosis or other form of negligence, you may be eligible for a medical negligence claim and entitled to compensation.
Read on for more information regarding medical negligence stroke cases, signs and symptoms of a stroke, how to file a stroke-related medical negligence claim and why involving a lawyer can help you increase your chances of a successful claim.
Defining medical negligence for stroke a patient and victims of stroke misdiagnosis
Medical negligence is an unfortunate circumstance of human error or malicious intent, also known as malpractice. It happens when an individual suffers injury or loss as a result of inadequate treatment or care, made either mistakenly or intentionally by a medical practitioner.
In the case of a stroke, medical negligence can happen if a medical professional:
- Disregards obvious symptoms that may be the result of a stroke, like a headache.
- Fails to gather the patient’s vital signs and conduct other routine assessments.
- Fails to consider a stroke as the cause of symptoms in susceptible patients (people who smoke or are obese, for example).
- Provides a misdiagnosis altogether.
However, medical negligence can occur more indirectly, too. Those instances like:
- Human error in the laboratory.
- Failure to consult the appropriate specialists.
- Delays in testing or diagnosing.
In 2019, The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare determined that strokes accounted for 5% of all deaths in Australia — which is about 8,400 individuals. Strokes are also a leading cause of disability in Australian citizens.
Signs of a stroke and its resulting complications
A stroke happens when the blood flow to your brain becomes blocked, depriving it of oxygen. This can happen as the result of high blood pressure or a blood clot serious enough to stop the flow of blood to the brain. If left untreated, the lack of blood flow can cause a serious and permanent brain injury.
The Stroke Foundation of Australia identifies these symptoms as potential signs of a stroke:
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either one or both sides of the body.
- Difficulty speaking.
- Difficulty understanding things.
- Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall.
- Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes.
- Headache, usually severe and abrupt, or an unexplained change in the pattern of headaches.
- Difficulty swallowing.
Because stroke symptoms are also common among other medical conditions, misdiagnosis can — and does — happen.
An entry in the Medical Journal of Australia from 2018 by the Director of Internal Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Ian Scott, claimed that there are about 140,000 cases of diagnostic error each year in Australia. The journal goes on further to state that “almost one in two malpractice claims against general practitioners involves diagnostic error.”
This data encompasses all diagnostic error cases and is not exclusive to incidents of stroke. Nevertheless, it showcases just how common misdiagnosis is, and why it’s important to understand your rights regarding medical negligence claims and compensation.
Prompt diagnosis and treatment is paramount to minimise the physical and psychological damage and impairment that can happen as a result of suffering a stroke. Temporary or permanent complications for survivors of a stroke include:
- Loss of speech.
- Difficulty thinking.
- Memory loss.
- Emotional complications.
- Loss of autonomy/independence.
If you have suffered permanent or temporary disability caused by a stroke that went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by medical practitioners, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim and entitled to compensation.
Filing a negligence claim against a hospital or medical practitioner
Compensation for medical negligence claims are calculated on a case by case basis, as each person’s situation can vary. The reparations are meant to reimburse a patient for their injury, suffering or loss to get them reoriented and re-established after having received insufficient or negligent medical care or treatment. After a successful claim is made, compensation is paid by the insurer of the medical establishment where the negligence occurred.
If received, compensation should cover:
- Medical bills and fees.
- Rehabilitation costs.
- All necessary travel expenses.
- Any income lost as a result of the medical negligence.
- Legal costs associated with proving your case.
To prove medical negligence or malpractice, an individual will have to demonstrate the following:
Duty of care
In tort law, duty of care is a legal obligation imposed on an individual to uphold a legally required standard of care when performing duties that have the potential to cause harm to someone. To prove duty of care, it most often requires verification of a client/patient relationship between yourself and the practitioner.
Breach of duty
Individuals must be able to prove that the duty of care was breached and that the medical practitioner did not in fact uphold the legally required standard of care.
Next, individuals filing a claim for medical negligence for stroke-related cases will have to prove that their physical or psychological injury or loss was sustained as a direct result of a breach of duty.
Lastly, an assessment of the individual’s sustained damages will commence to determine things like the severity of any injuries or impairments, and if they could realistically be attributed to medical negligence.
In any case, proving these things can be difficult if working on your own, but it is especially so for stroke victims because signs and symptoms of a stroke correlate closely with other serious medical conditions.
Should you choose to move forward and take legal action, the process for filing a stroke misdiagnosis claim is the same as filing a medical negligence claim. Misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose or a delay in diagnosis resulting in injury are considered negligent, therefore they fall under the umbrella of medical negligence and malpractice.
That said, it’s best to reach out to a lawyer that is well-versed in medical negligence and its claims process.
Why you need a medical negligence lawyer
Proving medical negligence isn’t easy. The often one-on-one nature of provided care between a medical practitioner and the patient makes it difficult to gather convincing evidence to build a strong case. Therefore, a large part of succeeding in your claim relies on physical documentation, reports, results and other tangible artefacts.
Between the correspondence with the at-fault facility, the collection of required documents and the necessary preparation to increase your chances of receiving an adequate amount of compensation that you deserve, it’s best to involve an experienced medical negligence claims lawyer. Our lawyers are experts in medical negligence and can help you build a more robust case that may increase your chance of success.
At Gerard Malouf & Partners, we offer expert, no-obligation consultation and a No-win, No-fee policy. Our goal is to bring justice to those deserving, and to make sure that you receive the compensation that you’re entitled to as the victim of medical negligence or medical malpractice preceding a stroke.
Suffering a stroke is not a matter to be taken lightly, even if proper care is received in a timely manner and no long-term complications are sustained. However, in the case of a misdiagnosis or failure to provide adequate care, know that we are here to support you. We can provide you with clear advice, instruction and assistance to file a medical negligence claim.
Speak with one of our lawyers in-person or over-the-phone to have a no-obligation discussion on the best course of action for your case.