When proving medical malpractice involving stroke care, an attorney will often refer to the phrase standard of care. You may hear the attorney talk about how the patient was injured and the standard of care was breached. Here we aim to help you understand what the phrase means and how it applies to medical malpractice claims.
It's often said that when strokes occur - and they occur suddenly - time is brain. According to some estimates, in an ischemic stroke, two million neurons die each minute until blood flow is restored. When the standard of care is followed and the medical response is quick, the patient has a better chance of minimizing the physical and cognitive damage of the stroke.
In medical matters, we can define the standard of care as the level of professional medical care relevant to a specific medical situation. Determining the actual standard of care for a specific situation depends on what resources were available to the medical professional and how they were used. A seasoned medical malpractice attorney handling a case on behalf of their client arrives at the accepted standard of care by deciding whether another medical professional with access to the same resources and similar credentials and experience would have performed in the same manner.
What Is Considered a Breach of the Standard of Care for a Stroke?
Medical health professionals have a brief window to treat a stroke patient; therefore, every action that is taken matters, and there is little room for error. A breach of the standard of care may happen in several situations, including:
- Diagnosing a patient incorrectly. Some illnesses or conditions may present as a stroke, such as brain tumors and seizures. Yet, a doctor must be able to differentiate a stroke from these other conditions. When the doctor arrives at a diagnosis quickly, although the symptoms warrant further testing, there is a potential for a breach in the standard of care. Should it then be determined that the patient's ailment is different from what the doctor diagnosed and treated, and the patient suffered an injury as a result, then a breach in the standard of care was present.
- Failing to implement a proper stroke protocol. A breach of the standard of care exists when a patient is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, and the doctor fails to implement a stroke protocol, resulting in serious injury.
- Waiting past a critical three-hour window to treat a stroke patient.
- Neglecting to request a CT scan immediately for a stroke patient.
- Failing to recognize the severity of the situation properly.
Breaching the Standard of Care for a Stroke Can Have Dire Consequences
All medical professionals who are in similar practices in Miami and have access to the same equipment, facilities, and other medical resources are expected to provide patients with similar levels of care and treatment. It is considered that the best place to have a stroke is in the hospital. But not just any hospital. The best are those with one of the following stroke certifications:
- Comprehensive Stroke Centers: these are the hospitals that can receive and treat the most complicated cases.
- Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Centers: these are the hospitals providing endovascular procedures and post-procedural care.
- Primary Stroke Centers: these are the hospitals that provide critical elements to improving outcomes for patients with long-term success.
- Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals: these are emergency centers that have a dedicated program that is stroke-focused.
Unfortunately, medical professionals may fail to diagnose and treat a stroke in a patient, which can cause devastating consequences. The risk for a breach of the standard of care arises when a doctor or other medical professional deviates from the standard of care, either by:
- Improper action of a medical professional
- The omission or failure to act timely of a healthcare provider
- Intentionally engaging in actions detrimental to patients
A breach has occurred when the actions or inactions of that medical professional result in the following:
- Preventable medical complication
If you, or your loved one, were injured in an event like this, you may be entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the institution or medical professional who breached the standard of care.
Wrongful Death Arising From Failure to Treat Strokes
One act of negligence on the doctor's part can mean the difference between healing and hurting. A breach of the stroke standard of care can lead to loss of life. If a medical professional's act of negligence caused the wrongful death of a family member, you can pursue fair compensation and work to ensure that those who caused these fatal injuries are held accountable.
The law allows only one recourse in wrongful death cases: financial compensation. Although no compensation can come even close to being a satisfactory outcome, this is still the recourse that the law allows. It can help your family cover:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses accumulated before the person's death
- The loss of the deceased person's expected income
- The loss of companionship
While no financial compensation can sufficiently compensate for the loss of a loved one nor alleviate one's grief, an attorney can help you recover economic damages. Compensation can help relieve overwhelming financial burdens due to exorbitant medical bills, the loss of income, and funeral expenses.
Florida Lawyer for Victims of Stroke Medical Malpractice
If you suspect that a doctor or other medical professionals have breached the stroke standard of care for you or a loved one, you need to contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately.
We can help by gathering documentation that includes all medical records involving interactions between the provider and you:
- Notes in your patient file
- Hospital charts
- Test results
- Administered medications
- Surgical records
- Physical therapy
- Other relevant information
- Records from other doctors