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Study Finds Emergency Departments Failing To Diagnose Strokes

Pennsylvania residents will find it interesting to learn that a recent retrospective study, which was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, found that emergency room negligence of  healthcare professionals failing to diagnose or missing a diagnosis of a stroke in patients literally a few days before their cardiovascular conditions become evident.

Authors of the study examined inpatient discharge and emergency department records and databases from nine states between the years 2008 and 2009. According to the authors of the study, nearly one in 10 of the potentially misdiagnosed stroke patients were discharged with either a diagnosis of dizziness or a headache. Based on the number of stroke admissions, and potentially missed stroke diagnoses, as well as the fact that there are 1.3 million recurrent or new strokes or transient ischemic attacks in the U.S. annually, the researchers estimated that there could be anywhere between 15,000 to nearly 165,000 misdiagnoses of stroke each year. Furthermore, it was noted that the likelihood of failing to diagnose a stroke was higher for those patients who were less than 45 in age, female, or who belonged to minority groups such as blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.

The study noted the failure to diagnose a stroke in younger adults, or those less than 45 years of age, may be because heart disease typically is considered to be more prevalent in the elderly population. Thus, younger individuals who present with stroke symptoms often get misdiagnosed.

Furthermore, the authors noted that in one study, avoidable demise of patients from a stroke was attributable to diagnostic errors nearly 30 times more often than patient deaths from an accompanying heart attack. Nevertheless, the authors of this recent study acknowledged some limitations of the study such as the insufficient information on certain issues, i.e. if there were diagnostic errors and whether the failure to diagnose could have been prevented or caused a patient harm.

Medicine has made tremendous progress in the last century. However, it is not perfect. Any patient who believes that he or she has suffered harm due to the delayed treatment received because a hospital or healthcare provider failed to diagnose a medical condition may want to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney for legal options.

Source: Medpage Today, “Stroke Rounds: Early Signs of Stroke Missed in Many Cases,” Todd Neale, April 7, 2014

The attorneys at The Colleran Firm handle serious injury cases caused by health care provider negligence and medical malpractice in Pennsylvania & New Jersey.

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