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Missing A Stroke: Failure To Diagnose Leads To Significant Jury Verdict

A stroke can be a devastating and debilitating event. Strokes occur when blood flow is blocked to a part of the brain, or when there is sudden bleeding in the brain. A stroke caused by a blockage, such as a blood clot, is called an ischemic stroke. A stroke caused by sudden bleeding is called a hemorrhagic stroke. A third condition, called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), is similar to a stroke in that a part of the blood flow in the brain is blocked. However, with a TIA, the blood flow is only blocked for a short time. Strokes and TIA all require immediate emergency medical care.

When a doctor is diagnosing a stroke, he or she will look for the signs and symptoms of a stroke, examine a patient’s medical history, perform a physical exam, and conduct diagnostic tests. One of the tests a doctor may order is called a brain computed tomography (CT) scan. This test “uses x rays to take clear, detailed pictures of your brain.” The scan can show “bleeding in the brain or damage to the brain cells from a stroke.”

Such a test was done on Kevin Orr of New York in January of 2012, reports The Post-Star. He went to the hospital because he was having difficulty standing, dizziness, and a headache. The ER doctor ordered a CT scan. The scan showed a “blockage in a blood vessel in his brain that was indicative of an undiagnosed stroke.” The radiologist, James E. Bell, did not report the stroke to the emergency room staff and Orr was sent home, having been diagnosed with a sinus infection. Orr suffered from a second massive stroke seven weeks later. This stroke “left him permanently disabled and in need of lifetime care.” Due to Bell’s failure to diagnose his stroke, Orr filed suit for medical malpractice against Bell and his practice, Adirondack Radiology Associates. After a trial in February 2016, a jury awarded Orr $11.6 million in compensation for his injuries.

Medical malpractice is a tort, or civil wrong. When bringing a claim for medical malpractice for failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, a patient needs to show that: a doctor-patient relationship existed, the physician was negligent, and that the physician’s negligence caused the patient harm.

Failure to diagnose is a serious medical error. If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient with the correct medical condition it can lead to potentially catastrophic consequences for the patient. In addition, it can lead to legal liability for the doctor if the patient chooses to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, as Kevin Orr did.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been injured because of a doctor’s negligence, speaking with a medical malpractice attorney can help you determine if you have a claim. The law firm of Gilman & Bedigian has years of experience handling medical malpractice cases and has some of the biggest jury verdicts in Maryland. We offer a free medical malpractice consultation.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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