The costs of treating strokes are projected to more than double in the next 20 years. The highest increase in the incidence of strokes are expected to occur in Americans between the ages of 45-64, and among Hispanics. These are the statement highlights from the new report released by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association on May 22, 2013. Since 90% of people who survive a stroke are left with some form of a disability, lost productivity is also expected to increase significantly.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and one of the top causes of preventable disability. A stroke occurs when blood flow in the brain is interrupted by a blood clot or a bleeding vessel. The brain cells that no longer receive oxygen-rich blood die. Death or disability is related to the part or parts of the brain affected.
Whether or not a stroke could have been prevented and was the result of medical malpractice is something that has to be determined on a case by case basis. If you suspect that the stroke that you or your loved one suffered was a result of negligence or carelessness by a medical care provider, call me to discuss it and I can try to answer that question.
It would be difficult to put together an all-inclusive list of stroke malpractice cases. I can, however, share with you some stroke cases that I have handled.
Today's case is about Dorothy. Dorothy had been told by her internist that she had elevated platelets. Platelets are the cells in your blood that make your blood clot. Too few and your blood won't clot - a cut would keep bleeding. Too many and your blood clots too easily - even inside your vessels. The internist referred Dorothy to a hematologist for consultation.
The hematologist conducted a battery of tests in search of what was wrong. He also performed a bone marrow biopsy that was sent off to a specialized lab for analysis. The lab sent back a report that said the test was positive for a Myeloproliferative Disorder. This is a blood disorder that puts patients at risk for a blood clot. Patients who are over 60 or have had a prior clot are at high risk for a clot. The standard of care for these patients is to put them on a particular drug. Dorothy was never put on the drug. Eventually she suffered a major stroke. She had a blood clot form in her left middle cerebral artery, which resulted in aphasia and right sided hemiparesis.
Dorothy spent a long time in the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, first as an inpatient, then as an outpatient. Adaptations had to be made to her home - ramps, bars installed in the bathrooms, a chair stair lift installed. Live in nurses were hired to care for her. The financial costs of her stroke paled in comparison to the emotional costs that Dorothy's disability had on everyone.
The hematologist was sued for failure to treat Dorothy's condition. The case settled the week before trial was to begin.