The speed with which a stroke is treated is often one of the most important factors in recovery. If the hospital turns away a patient that is having a stroke or they fail to identify the signs and symptoms, the delay in immediate medical care could have serious consequences for the patient. As such, you can often hold healthcare providers liable for failing to treat your stroke symptoms.
Both hospitals and doctors can be held responsible for missed signs of a stroke, depending on their specific actions. Often, hospital employees are responsible for triaging patients at the emergency department and deciding who gets treated and in what order. Mistakes at this stage could set patients up for serious harm. Moreover, ER doctors should be well-versed in identifying stroke symptoms, and it often constitutes medical malpractice to allow a stroke to go untreated.
For help with your specific case, speak with our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling (410) 694-7291.
Are Doctors or Hospitals Responsible for Failing to Diagnose and Treat a Stroke in Maryland
Often, your doctor and the hospital itself share responsibility for failing to diagnose a stroke and treat the patient when they come in complaining of symptoms. However, the situation depends on the specific facts and – strangely enough – employment agreements between the doctor and the hospital. Our Maryland personal injury lawyers explain a few different scenarios and who is responsible for failing to diagnose your stroke in those situations.
Going to Your Primary Care Provider
If you suspect that something is wrong and you make an appointment with your primary care provider, that doctor might share some responsibility for failing to diagnose your stroke symptoms. However, primary care doctors usually tell patients that if they are undergoing a medical emergency that they should go to the hospital instead of coming into their doctor’s office. Additionally, staff at the doctor’s office should be pretty well aware of the basic signs of a stroke, so they should also direct you to go to the hospital if you are complaining of stroke-like symptoms.
If your doctor does have you come in for an appointment and still does not recognize the symptoms as a potential stroke, then they could be responsible for failure to diagnose. Often, it is in the doctor’s and the patient’s best interests to refer the patient to the ER if the doctor suspects they are undergoing a medical emergency like a stroke or a heart attack. In any case, simply sending the patient home might constitute medical malpractice.
In this situation, there might be a hospital or hospital network that your doctor works for, and that hospital might be held accountable as the doctor’s employer. Otherwise, there is likely no connection to a hospital that would allow you to sue them in this situation.
Missed Stroke Symptoms at the ER
If you go to the emergency department at your hospital because you think something is seriously wrong, health-wise, then they should take steps to screen you and get you before a doctor quickly. If they fail to recognize the signs and symptoms, this could delay your care.
Generally, the fault here would lie with the hospital first and foremost. If they do not get you in front of a doctor, then the nurses and other staff at the hospital would be the ones to blame for the delay, allowing you to sue the hospital if those employees acted unreasonably.
If you do see a doctor and the doctor nonetheless misses your signs and symptoms as well, then the doctor could be liable for medical malpractice. At the end of the day, most ER doctors are hospital employees, and so the hospital might also be sued as the doctor’s employer. Sometimes private practice doctors take call in ERs, meaning that they might not be employees of the hospital. Even so, other hospital employees – like the nurses at the desk in the ER – would have also been involved. That might also allow you to sue the hospital.
Stroke Caused by Another Procedure
Sometimes strokes are caused by complications with other procedures. If the doctor’s mistakes caused the stroke to happen in the first place, that doctor should be held responsible. Again, if the doctor is a hospital employee or the procedure took place at a hospital with the help of the hospital’s nurses, then the hospital should be included in the lawsuit as well. Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers can also look for other ways the hospital might have caused the injury, such as by allowing you to contract a hospital-acquired infection or through mistakes and prescription errors at the hospital’s pharmacy.
Missed Stroke During Another Procedure
If you suffer a stroke while undergoing other care and the doctors fail to notice the signs and symptoms and treat the stroke, that could also constitute malpractice. As discussed above, whether hospital employees were involved might determine whether the hospital itself also shares liability.
When Does a Missed Stroke Diagnosis Constitute Medical Malpractice in Maryland?
Generally, for a claim of malpractice to succeed based on missed stroke diagnosis, there must have been sufficient symptoms to make a diagnosis. Alternatively, there might have been enough symptoms to trigger a reasonable doctor to perform additional tests to identify whether or not you were having a stroke. If your doctor failed to investigate further, then that could also constitute malpractice.
If you had obvious symptoms like weakness on one side, slurred speech, and trouble responding to your surroundings, then it is likely unreasonable for any licensed doctor to fail to diagnose the stroke. Instead, most missed stroke diagnosis cases involve vague or mild symptoms. In those cases, our Ocean City personal injury lawyers will seek out expert testimony from other doctors detailing whether he doctor’s failure to diagnose was reasonable or not, given the information they had at the time.
Call Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyers
For help with your potential case, call (410) 694-7291 today to speak with the Towson personal injury attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras.