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Paralyzed Woman Wins Malpractice Lawsuit After Migraine Treatment

For people who have never had a serious migraine, it can be difficult to comprehend the pain and stress involved. A migraine is not just a headache. Migraines can cause moderate to severe throbbing or pulsing pain. It can also cause nausea, weakness, and sensitivity to light and sound. For people who have chronic migraines, it can be an uphill battle as doctors try to figure out what is causing the migraine and how to treat it. However, when doctors do not inform patients of the risks of certain procedures, it can lead to serious consequences. 

Migraine Treatment Leads to Stroke

Robyn Frankel suffered from migraines for her entire life. After many imaging procedures, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), her doctor decided to try a cerebral angiogram. Cerebral angiography involves injecting a special contrast dye into the circulatory system. X-ray images are taken of the area around the brain to show how blood is flowing, to highlight any areas of blockage. 

The 43-years-old, Menlo Park suffered a stroke during the procedure and fell into a coma. She did not wake up for 2 weeks, and when she did, the mother of 2 small children was unable to move her right side and had limited motion on her left side. It took months before she was able to speak and regain partial movement.

Frankel’s medical malpractice case was based on the claim that her doctor did not tell her it was an invasive procedure and carried a serious risk of injury or death. This is known as lack of informed consent and can be a basis for a medical malpractice claim. Patients should be aware of the procedures they are undergoing, including what type of procedure it is, and the risk associated with the procedure. 

Additionally, according to expert testimony in the case, the procedure was not even necessary. An expert witness testified that it was not medically necessary, provided no benefit, and did not show anything that the non-invasive procedures had shown. 

A jury verdict found in favor of Frankel and awarded her $22 million. Frankel had a successful career as a property manager, she used to ride horses, and participate in all her children’s activities. Now, she has continuing therapy sessions and needs 24/7 care. The majority of the award will go towards future economic losses and future care. She expects care to cost up to about $350,000 per year. 

Symptoms of Migraines

While headaches are a part of migraines, there may be other symptoms that begin before and continue after the headaches. There are generally 4 phases of a migraine, that may not always be present each time. These include: 

  • ProdromeWhich can begin up to 24 hours before you get the migraine. Signs and symptoms may include food cravings, mood changes, uncontrollable yawning, fluid retention, and increased urination.
  • Aura – For people who have this symptom, they may see flashing or bright lights or zig-zag lines. This may also be accompanied by muscle weakness or feeling like you are being touched or grabbed. 
  • Headache The throbbing or pulsing pain often begins gradually and then becomes more severe. The headaches are often on one side of the head. Other migraine symptoms may include sensitivity to light, noise, or smells; nausea and vomiting; and worsening pain on movement. 
  • Postdrome – After the headache, the individual may feel exhausted, weak, and confused. 

Surgical Malpractice

If a doctor suggests a procedure that you are unfamiliar with, make sure you get all the information about the procedure before making a decision. Invasive procedures carry inherent risks, including a possible risk of infection or stroke. 

The skilled medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian fight to get compensation for injured patients and their families. Contact our law office online or by calling (800) 529-6162.

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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