Stroke: unusual symptoms and delayed treatment
Stroke On World Stroke Day, Clinical Negligence lawyer Marianne Walker explores strokes from the perspective of when medical treatment goes wrong, and the less common signs.
My personal connection
"We know that 1 in 6 individuals will experience a stroke in their lifetime. With figures like this it’s easy to acknowledge that most of us will experience the devastating effect of this condition either personally or through our family, friends or colleagues. I personally have witnessed two family members suffer with severe strokes; have seen them lose mobility and movement, struggle to be heard and understood, and I have seen the determined rigor with which they have applied themselves to physiotherapy and rehabilitation to try to gain back what they have lost.
"I have seen the determined rigor with which they have applied themselves to physiotherapy and rehabilitation to try to gain back what they have lost."
"I have a further professional connection to the condition in my work. As a Clinical Negligence Solicitor I have acted on behalf of clients who have not only suffered the effects of their stroke, but have also suffered as a result of medical treatment they have received which falls beneath the appropriate standard of care, and has caused them further injury."
"Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability and it is widely accepted that urgent investigation, diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment is absolutely critical to arrest the condition, limit injury to the brain and improve the individual’s chances of a good recovery.
Consider these atypical symptoms:
"In some of my cases my clients have experienced delays in investigation, diagnosis and treatment of their stroke. These delays have been more pronounced in cases where the stroke symptoms they have experienced have been atypical. These clients did not present with the more widely recognisable symptoms of confusion, difficulty speaking and numbness or weakness on one side of the body which are assessed with the well-known FAST approach. In my client’s cases their symptoms did not raise the suspicion of stroke in Accident and Emergency and a referral for CT/MRI scanning was not carried out.
"He was discharged from A&E without further investigation and referred to an Eye Clinic for a check-up."
"One of my clients presented at hospital with a sudden headache and peripheral vision loss but was perfectly alert and cognisant. He was discharged from Accident and Emergency without further investigation and referred to an Eye Clinic for a check-up. By the time the Eye Clinic had referred my client back to his General Practitioner who had in turn recognised the symptoms and referred him urgently to a Neurologist, he had suffered multiple strokes and permanently lost his peripheral vision. This had a significant impact on his life, he could no longer drive, struggled to read and watch TV and was seriously considering moving house because the rural location of his home left him very isolated.
"Discharged from hospital because of his history of migraines and stress headaches."
"In another of my cases, my client presented at hospital with a sudden severe headache. He described the onset of this headache as though he had been hit across the back of the head with a plank of wood. He also had a history of migraines and stress headaches. Despite the sudden and ‘catastrophic’ nature of his headache he was discharged from hospital with a diagnosis of cluster headache. By the following morning he experienced numbness down his left side and was unable to speak clearly. He was admitted to hospital where an MRI scan revealed a very significant stroke which affected movement, speech and cognition.
"These cases are unusual and tragic, but in bringing them forward my clients have helped to ensure that the hospitals in which they were treated learn key lessons about how to deal with patients in the future who present with these unusual and uncommon stroke symptoms. The injured individuals were always keen to ensure that what happened to them did not happen to anyone else."
Awareness = preparedness
"World Stroke Day 2017 is all about prevention and amelioration of the devastating impact of stroke. One of the ways we can all do this is to educate ourselves on the common and uncommon symptoms of stroke and to look at reducing our own individual risk factors. Any specific individual concerns about stroke or your family history can be raised and discussed with your doctor, who can give specific and detailed advice and guidance."