Doctor’s Struggle to Diagnose Strokes due to Differential Symptoms April 28, 2016
We know that many of our clients and their family members have suffered from a stroke; therefore, we thought it worth sharing this medical information. Of course, if you have any medical questions or concerns, it is important to consult directly with a healthcare professional.
While it may not be common knowledge, there are actually different kinds of strokes and, understandably, different medical symptoms that patients present with depending on what type of stroke they are experiencing. A high percentage of strokes – about 80%, in fact – affect the front area of the brain. When that happens, the signs and symptoms are fairly “traditional”: a sudden onset of arm-weakness, face drooping, difficulty speaking, etc. However, when a stroke creates a blockage of vessels in the back, and not front, of the brain, the symptoms are quite different (this type of stroke is often referred to as a posterior stroke). Posterior strokes can cause nausea and dizziness. But, as most of us know, nausea and dizziness are also often symptoms or side effects of a range of illnesses and typically are not perceived as warning signs of a stroke.
The journal Stroke recently published a study that examines this very predicament. The study argues that the problem is not poor diagnostic training on behalf of medical professionals, but instead focuses on the difficulty that healthcare providers face while assessing different stroke types. For the purpose of the study, the medical records of greater than 450 patients who had suffered strokes were examined. An important note is that all of these patients were seen at either one of two certified stroke centers.
Medical specialists, such as neurologists, that practice at the Yale University School of Medicine conducted the study. They found that in respect to the initial diagnoses of stroke patients, that 22% were misdiagnosed. Another important note here is that out of the 22% of patients who were initially misdiagnosed that over 30% of them had been eligible to receive a drug that breaks apart blood clots, a common and quite severe risk that is attributed to strokes. The study also explicated how stroke history plays a major role in this issue because it is sometimes hard to tell if current symptoms are from a new event or have been caused by damage from a past event, instead. And, while nausea and dizziness along with stomach issues are typically not signs of a stroke, according to the study when those symptoms are coupled with speech changes or vision changes, they can indeed be a red flag.
Because posterior strokes comprise roughly 20% of all strokes, there is clearly a genuine need to assess the way this type of stroke is evaluated and diagnosed. Some stroke specialists advocate for patients to have their complaints of vertigo checked by a general practitioner unless they are also a smoker or suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure. In those cases, some specialists recommend being evaluated immediately because they feel the risk for a stroke is higher. Others also mention that if someone complains of vertigo, or a feeling of “spinning” in combination with any kind of speech or vision issues, that an immediate visit is advisable.
It is important to mention again that this article is for informational purposes only. Because we know that strokes have affected many of our clients, their family members and loved ones, we felt that the information provided here is useful. However, if you have any medical questions or concerns, please contact a healthcare professional directly.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP
The Philadelphia Medical Malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger have successfully represented clients who have been injured due to medical negligence, malpractice and misdiagnoses. If you or any of your loved ones have experienced such a situation, an attorney at Galfand Berger, LLP can help. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.