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Neurology Malpractice

Over half of a neurologistís time is spent diagnosing and treating patients for stroke and stroke related injuries. In stroke patients, prompt identification and appropriate treatment may mean the difference not only in life and death, but also the difference in lifelong disability and full recovery. Providers must maintain a high incidence of suspicion of stroke if a patient has a sudden onset of severe headache, numbness or paralysis on one side of the body, and slurred speech or a change in mental status. A patient with these symptoms must have imaging, such as a CT scan, to determine the type of stroke. The treatment regimen will depend on the type of stroke diagnosed and will also depend on the time that has lapsed between the onset of symptoms and time the diagnoses is confirmed, as well as other medical conditions. If the patient has hypertension and is thought to have a hemorrhagic stroke, he may not be a good candidate for TPA and administration of this medication is contraindicated. Cases for failing to timely diagnose stroke in the early stage are difficult to pursue. If done in the first three hours, those that are completely recovered constitute far less than fifty percent of the patients who present and are treated.  Cause for malpractice action occurs when a neurologist fails to appropriately evaluate a patient, diagnose a stroke, and provide appropriate and timely treatment, as the patient may suffer irreversible loss of movement and cognitive function or loss of life. Malpractice action against a neurologist may also occur in the case of failure to identify and treat an increased amount of fluid around the brain, a condition known as hydrocephalus.

Failure to diagnose an arterial occlusion may result in a patient suffering a stroke.  A physician may erroneously conclude that a patient is suffering from a pinched nerve, when instead the condition is a transient ischemic attack (TIA).   If treated properly, the patient would not have suffered a stroke.  Failure to diagnose extracranial vascular disease is an area shared by neurosurgery, neurology, and vascular surgery. Failure to timely diagnose and treat multiple sclerosis and failure to order proper workup and refer to a specialist.  

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