Delayed Diagnosis as Medical Malpractice

There have been a lot of emails and blog posts related to identifying the symptoms of incipient stroke. This is because stroke cannot generally be predicted, and to the untrained individual it may look like anything from intoxication (slurred speech) to simple tiredness (neck pain, general weakness). However, for the trained health care professional, there is no excuse for overlooking the significance of these symptoms when taken together, and failure to identify incipient or actual stroke in a timely manner can have serious consequences to the patient.

Stroke is essentially loss of brain function due to lack of oxygen (brain cell death) or pressure on the brain from a hemorrhage. This may be due to obstruction of the blood vessels carrying oxygenated blood to the brain (ischemic stroke) or a rupture in a blood vessel on the brain’s surface (hemorrhagic stroke). In many cases, there is no advance warning about these events, sometimes referred to as cerebrovascular accidents, so there is no way to circumvent it.

An article on the website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP from New Hampshire characterizes stroke as a medical emergency, so it is important to have an idea of the symptoms. The patient may experience a sudden loss of balance, blurred vision, confusion, weakness, dizziness, speech problems, or any combination of these symptoms. If these symptoms are present, the patient should brought to the hospital emergency room or a doctor’s clinic at the onset of symptoms.

There are protocols that are in place to determine if it is indeed a stroke which includes a physical assessment, ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI. However, the physician should first suspect the condition to have these tests done, and with stroke, an early diagnosis is the key to minimizing the damage. Stroke victims that are not treated immediately suffer more severe consequences than they should have.
The failure of the physician or other attending healthcare professional to recognize the signs of stroke in a timely manner would be considered delayed diagnosis, and this can be medical malpractice. This is because it is their duty to know and notice these things in their capacity as a medical practitioner. If you or an immediate family member suffered injury because of delayed diagnosis, you should contact a medical malpractice lawyer to see what can be done to address the negligence.


  1. Thank you for this article. It is important for victims to get treated immediately if they notice symptoms or unusual signs with their body. If a doctor fails to diagnose on time, this is a careless action on their part.

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