Unfortunately, failing to properly diagnose a stroke is a common medical error. A study of complaints filed with the Swedish Medical Responsibility Board found that, although the frequency of stroke-related grievances was low (1 percent), three-quarters of complaints were lodged against physicians, and nearly all (92 percent) concerned misdiagnosis.

Here in the U.S., a study of emergency room stroke diagnosis was no more comforting. It found that diagnosis was correct in 152 of 176 consecutive stroke patients (86 percent) and 1818 of 1835 patients without stroke.

Other authorities have estimated that the rate of incorrect diagnosis is even higher. It is also important to note, however, that over-diagnosis of stroke is another serious problem, since administering thrombolytic therapy can have serious consequences, including causing a stroke! Rates of over-diagnosis of stroke range from 19 to 31 percent.

A misdiagnosis that originates from a radiologist’s interpretation of an MRI or CT may result in damages to a patient, and a malpractice claim against both the emergency physician who relied upon the interpretation, and the radiologist who misread the imaging study. 

Misdiagnosis often occurs in emergency room settings where the volume of patients is high and the physician fails to recognize the early signs of stroke so he or she does not order early imaging studies. Alternatively, a hemorrhagic stroke may be misdiagnosed as an ischemic stroke which would lead to administering thrombolytic therapy that would cause the hemorrhagic stroke to worsen.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of a misdiagnosis related to a stroke, you should consult with an experienced Georgia medical malpractice attorney.