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Can failure to detect a stroke be medical malpractice?

The human body can sometimes be difficult to decipher. This is particularly true when an individual experiences symptoms that may be applicable to more than one medical condition. This is where doctors can be extremely helpful, as their extensive education and experience leave them better suited to make diagnoses than non-medically trained individuals. Tragically, however, even these medical professionals make mistakes, and an error in diagnosis could prove harmful or even fatal. One circumstance in which a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can arise is when an individual has suffered a stroke.

There are several tests that doctors can perform to detect a stroke. First, a doctor can perform a physical examination. Here, a doctor will check a patient's blood pressure, pulse and cholesterol for signs of stroke. A medical professional can also conduct a CT scan, searching the brain, which could lead to the discovery of a stroke.

Also, an MRI, which utilizes radio waves, can be used to create an image of the brain. Similar to a CT scan, which utilizes X-rays, an MRI can help show a doctor the condition of the brain and any damage that may have occurred, including stroke. Doctors also have carotid ultrasound, cerebral angiogram and echocardiogram testing at their disposal to detect the presence of a stroke.

However, despite these advanced medical techniques, an accurate diagnosis still requires a competent medical professional who can accurately carryout tests and properly read their results. Those who fail to do this could leave a patient at risk of serious harm. Those who wind up injured as a result of a failure to diagnose a medical condition or a misdiagnosis may want to consider their legal options, including a medical malpractice lawsuit, so that they can hold negligent medical professionals accountable for the harm they have caused and, hopefully, recover the compensation they deserve.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Stroke Diagnosis," accessed on Feb. 19, 2016

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