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Stroke misdiagnosis solicitors

Strokes are on the increase; there has been a 32% increase in Hospital admissions for men (aged 40-54) in England from 2000 to 2014.  Strokes are no longer just happening to the elderly and can instead affect all age groups because of lifestyle choices, diet and health and underlying diseases. 

Minton Morrill’s medical negligence specialists are regularly instructed to investigate and pursue clinical negligence compensation claims stemming from a failure to diagnose and treat strokes.  We understand that suffering a stroke can have devastating physical and mental consequences that affect not only the patient but their whole family, including their partners, children and friends. 

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when the brain cannot get oxygen.  There are two main causes:

  1. A blood clot, the most common cause, where a clot cuts off the blood supply to the brain.
  2. A bleed, where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.  

If the brain is starved of oxygen it is likely to cause injury to the brain cells.  The longer the brain is starved of oxygen the more damage is likely to be caused.  When a blood clot causes a stroke, time is of the essence in treating it.  With a bleed in the brain, however, treatment options are very limited.

What is a TIA?

A related condition to a stroke is called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).  This occurs when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted causing stroke like symptoms that disappear after a short period of time, usually without causing brain damage.  TIAs should always be treated seriously because they are often a warning sign that someone is at risk of having a full stroke.

What are the Symptoms of Strokes?

Stroke symptoms have been publicised by the NHS in recent years by the word FAST.  These are:

F – Face, has it dropped on one side, by the eye or mouth?

A – Arms, can they keep both arms lifted?  Is their weakness or numbness in one arm?

S – Speech, is their speech slurred or garbled?

T – Time, dial 999 if any of these signs or symptoms are present.

More information about stroke symptoms can be found here:

https://www.stroke.org.uk/take-action/act-fast

Treatment

Acting FAST is the key to successfully treating strokes and minimising brain injuries. If a stroke is not diagnosed and the patient referred for immediate review the window for effective treatment will be lost.  The type of treatment is dependent on whether a blood clot or bleed has caused the stroke. 

Blood Clot

If there is a blood clot, thrombolysis may be given to try and thin the blood in an attempt to dissolve the blood clot and restore oxygenated blood flow to the brain.  This type of treatment is only usually given within 4 hours of the first onset of stroke symptoms.  Some newer research suggests that this 4 hours window can be extended by a matter of hours with successful results but, on the whole, this type of treatment is most effective if given as soon after the onset of stroke symptoms as possible.

Other more advanced treatment options may be available including CT guided catheter delivery of clot busting medication (direct to the location of the clot) and mechanical thrombectomy (where the clot is broken down by tiny surgical tools and removed through a blood vessel) to try and dissolve or remove the clot as quickly and efficiently as possible after the onset of symptoms.

Other medication may be given to prevent future blood clots, such as aspirin and anticoagulants.    

Bleed

Thrombolysis medication is not given if the cause of the stroke is a bleed because thrombolysis is likely to make the bleed worse and the brain injury more severe.  For this reason, a CT brain scan is usually carried out to determine the cause of the stroke before any type of treatment is started.

Treatment for a bleed in the brain may include surgery (craniotomy) and/or medication to reduce further bleeding.  Medication may also be prescribed to prevent future bleeds.

How is a Stroke Diagnosed?

The symptoms of a stroke are often very clear and doctors will have a strong suspicion that a patient has suffered a stroke based on these.  The type of stroke (a blood clot or bleed in the brain) is more difficult to determine so doctors will usually arrange for an urgent CT scan of the brain to identify the cause of the stroke and, based on the information, whether thrombolysis treatment can be given.   

What are the Consequences of failing to diagnose and promptly treat a Stroke?

Time is of the essence when someone has suffered a stroke, particularly, from a blood clot.  If the stroke is not treated promptly, damage to the brain can be extensive leading to permanent severe disability.  For example: loss of speech, one sided physical impairment, loss of vision, reduction in memory / cognitive functioning are but a few of the devastating consequences a stroke can cause.

Can you Sue the NHS for stroke misdiagnosis?

Yes, until recently, many stroke misdiagnosis medical negligence cases focused on the time taken to identify, diagnose and provide a patient with thrombolytic treatment.  If there had been a failure to diagnose a stoke caused by a blood clot and provide thrombolytic treatment on an urgent basis, our lawyers were able to successfully argue that a patient’s brain injury would have been avoided or, at least, lessened.   Medical research has now however largely halted these types of stroke misdiagnosis cases from succeeding because the evidence from studies is that treatment with thrombolytic treatment, even when given well within the recommended 4 hours timeframe, does not necessarily lead to brain injuries being avoided or lessened to a standard that can be proven.

Misdiagnosis of stroke clinical negligence cases now predominately focus on whether the stroke itself could have been prevented rather than whether there was any delay in treating the stroke. 

Our expert lawyers have a number of on-going cases where we are investigating whether a client’s stroke could have been prevented.  For example, where a patient has suffered from a TIA, explained above, which is a mini stroke and indicator that they are likely to suffer a full on stroke shortly.  Our client was not investigated in order to diagnose the cause of her TIA nor was she provided with aspirin or other medication.   She went on to suffer a stroke with permanent disability that aspirin and other medication/treatment would, according to our expert evidence, have prevented.    

Cardiac (heart problems) are often responsible for causing a stroke.  Patients with atrial fibrillation (a heart condition causing a fast and irregular heart beat) are often prescribed warfarin specifically to try and minimise the risk of them suffering a stroke as a result of a blood clot.  If atrial fibrillation is not properly diagnosed and treated or, even if it is diagnosed, warfarin is not prescribed, a patient may suffer a stroke.  In these circumstances, we would likely investigate an NHS Compensation claim based on the fact that a diagnosis was not made and / or treatment not provided. 

How often are strokes misdiagnosed?

Strokes can sometimes be misdiagnosed but the bulk of successful medical negligence claims in stroke negligence claims now focus on the underlying cause of the stroke and whether there was a missed opportunity to treat this and stop a stroke from happening in the first place.  If this was as a result of sub-standard medical treatment there may be a claim for substantial compensation.   

Medical negligence misdiagnosis claims are on the increase.  This is for a number of reasons, but specifically in relation to strokes, there is a growing trend of younger adults suffering from these devastating brain injuries which, historically, were confined to more elderly people. 

How to make a Stroke Misdiagnosis Claim?

Our experienced medical misdiagnosis solicitors are leaders in the field of medical negligence NHS Compensation Claims and have significant experience successfully pursuing cases where patients have suffered avoidable brain injuries, like strokes.   We will talk you through each step of the process of investigating a misdiagnosis compensation claim.   We will work towards the instruction of an independent medical expert (often in neurology and/or cardiology) so that we can advise you whether you have suffered an avoidable injury as a result of sub-standard medical treatment. 

How much Compensation will you get for a Stroke Misdiagnosis Claim? 

Every clinical negligence claim is different and the amount of compensation will be determined by the severity of a client’s injuries and the change in lifestyle they have suffered as a result.  Stroke misdiagnosis claims do, however, like other severe brain injury damages claims, attract significant compensation.  A 45 years old professional male who suffered an avoidable stroke resulting in brain injury stemming from sub-standard cardiac treatment, received over £500,000.  

Why you need a specialist medical negligence solicitor?

When medical treatment goes wrong and causes injury and loss it is crucial to speak with a professional, experienced and specialist medical negligence solicitor to help you.

Our Solicitors

The medical negligence team at Minton Morrill has this experience and its team of solicitors specialise solely in this complex area of law. Our team have more accredited panel members (5) on the AvMA and Law Society clinical negligence scheme than any other law firm handling clinical negligence claims in Leeds or surrounding area as well as a national presence acting for clients across the country such as Kent, Hampshire and Cumbria.

Our medical negligence team is top ranked in the Tier 1 category in the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners annual reviews in recognition of their medical negligence work.   The department is described as ‘One of the market leaders’ noted for ‘achieving high-value settlements’ in birth injury claims and also for its ‘superb reputation for handling a wide range of clinical negligence claims’. 

The department is led by Simon Minton.  Simon and Julia Morrill are both recognised as the only two Leading Individuals for clinical negligence in the Leeds area.  The other department members: Susan Bartfield, Charles Gillott, Sahida Patel and Guy Pomphrey all have a wealth of experience.  Speak to our team today to work towards succeeding with your claim.

Case Studies

Over the past year our team of lawyers have settled a range of cases.  Examples include:

  • Settling four different £5 million pound plus birth injury cerebral palsy claims.
  • Settling a birth injury cerebral palsy in excess of £8 million.
  • Working on settling a birth injury claim valued at just under £12.5 million.  
  • Settling a range of other claims including fatal claims for in excess of £275,000.

Click here for case studies for more information about the types of cases we have settled.  

A Complete Service

Our medical negligence team work closely with the highly regarded Minton Morrill Inquest team who represent families of individuals who have died before a Coroner at Inquest.  Civil claims for damages may then sometimes be pursued following the conclusion of the Inquest. 

Minton Morrill also has a Court of Protection department (led by Julia Morrill) to assist injured children and their families manage and access compensation money held by the Courts.

Our Values

Medical negligence is extremely distressing for those directly affected and their families.  We offer a bespoke and personal service to all of our clients because we recognise and understand how important it is for your case to be handled in a sensitive manner.  We are not a “claims processing factory” and our team of solicitors only take on a smaller number of total cases in order to be able to meet the high standards we set for ourselves.

Paying for Stroke Rehabilitation

Stroke injuries can cause devastating injuries.  Stroke Rehabilitation is proven to help individuals improve both their physical and cognitive limitations; for example, intensive physiotherapy to improve one sided weakness, or speech and language therapy to help try and restore some speech.

Although some of these therapies may be available through the NHS, they may be limited in nature and not sufficient for someone who is really determined to improve their condition.  In such circumstances, successful medical negligence compensation claims provide our clients with the financial resources to obtain this much needed professional input to improve their condition.  A Case Manager may be instructed, for example, to organise and co-ordinate all of these healthcare people.

As part of any claim involving a brain injury, our client’s needs, such as care, accommodation, transport (etc) are all carefully considered so that any compensation covers their needs now, and in the future.  Minton Morrill has a track record of achieving the highest settlements for their clients.

How to contact us?

If you think you, or someone you know, may have suffered an injury as a result of negligent medical treatment and would like to speak with a member of the Minton Morrill medical negligence team, please call on 0113 245 8549 or complete the Ask Us A Question or Get in Touch Forms.

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