Medical Negligence in Stroke Cases
Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and one of the leading causes of adult death in Ireland. It is estimated that by 2030 nearly one in every 25 adults will suffer a stroke.
Most strokes can be broadly categorised as either haemorrhagic or ischemic. A haemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures, releasing blood into the brain tissue, whereas an ischemic stroke results from reduced blood flow to the brain.
Stroke medical negligence claims fall into four categories –
- Stroke resulting from an injury.
- Medication – induced stroke.
- Failure to recognise or treat a person about to have a stroke.
- Negligent treatment of a person having a stroke.
Stroke cause by injury
Damage to the internal wall of an artery leading to the brain can cause a clot to form at the site of an injury. If the clot grows or a piece breaks off and travels to a smaller artery, stroke can result from the decreased blood flow to the brain. Such injuries occur from blunt trauma to the neck or when the head and neck are rapidly twisted such as in car crashes. People with certain heart conditions known to cause stroke often take blood thinners. If they suffer an injury which requires surgery or causes dangerous bleeding, they may be forced to stop taking blood thinners, which can dramatically increase their risk of stroke.
Medication – induced stroke
Many medications are known to increase a person’s propensity to clot and thereby increase the risk of stroke. When these clots form in or travel to an artery leading to the brain, stroke occurs. It is important when taking medication that you read carefully the warnings as to risks.
Failure to recognise or treat a person about to have a stroke
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) which is also called a ‘mini stroke’ has the same symptoms as a stroke, goes away rapidly and leaves no permanent brain damage. However, because it is caused by the same conditions that cause strokes, a TIA strongly indicates a stroke may soon follow. Early treatment of TIAs and minor strokes have been found to reduce recurrent strokes.
Failure to timely treat a stroke
Many medical negligence claims arise against Doctors and hospitals because of their failure to timely-
- Recognise, appreciate or communicate a stroke’s symptoms and signs.
- Implement treatment to restore blood flow to the brain.
- Or implement treatment to prevent further interruption to blood flow to the brain.
Stroke symptoms manifest themselves almost instantaneously when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. There is a limited window of time after a stroke in which therapies can be employed to safely and effectively restore blood flow to the brain before it is irreversibly damaged. That window opens when a person exhibiting stroke symptoms was last known to be neurologically normal and closes after 3-4 and a half hours.
If a patient attends a hospital with symptoms of stroke and they haven’t been treated appropriately a claim for damages may arise. Liam Moloney, Solicitor is an expert in the area of medical negligence law and can be contacted at 045-89800 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss any potential medical negligence case with him.