Failure to Diagnose Carotid Artery Tear Leads to Stroke and Amputation

As was recently reported by the Los Angeles Times, Kaiser Permanente was ordered to pay a former middle school administrator $5 million after his doctors negligently failed to recognize signs and symptoms that were consistent with an impending stroke, and instead erroneously diagnosed him with a migraine headache.  In 2008, the 48 year old Plaintiff presented to the health care providers with a primary complaint of headaches and episodic blindness, signs and symptoms that were consistent with a tear in his carotid artery.  The plaintiff was evaluated by several doctors, including a neurologist, none of whom considered or ruled out the possibility that he was suffering from a carotid tear.  According to the Plaintiff's attorney, in men under the age of 60, a carotid tear is one of the most common causes of episodic blindness.  Instead, the Plaintiff's doctors diagnosed him with an opthalmic migraine headache.  Had the proper diagnosis been made, the Plaintiff would have been treated promptly with medication, which in turn, would have allowed the artery to repair itself within a matter of months.  Instead, the tear went untreated for weeks, ultimately resulting in a Thanksgiving evening stroke.  That stroke resulted in the Plaintiff being partially paralyzed, wheelchair bound and unable to work or care for himself.  A subsequent infection, resulted in the need to amputate the Plaintiff's legs.  In the lawsuit, the Plaintiff claimed damages that included past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of earnings and benefits and damages associated with his past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress. 

A carotid artery tear (or dissection as it is also commonly referred to as) results in blood that is under arterial pressure being allowed to enter the wall of the artery and split its lawyers.  This results in either a hematoma or aneurysm of the blood vessel.  Rupture prior to treatment / intervention is often catastrophic.  Carotid artery tears are well known to be associated with ischemic strokes in all age groups, but more often affect people in their 50s and 60s.  As with other types of diseases, persons can be predisposed to such occurrences due to their familial or genetic histories.  In terms of diagnosis, physicians generally rely upon CT scans of the head and neck and / or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) to make the diagnosis. 

As experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Baltimore, Maryland, Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas, our lawyers regularly handle failure to diagnose cases, including negligence leading to strokes, paralysis and death.  Because the costs associated with caring for a stroke victim can be substantial, it is important that you or a loved one who has been the suspected victim of medical negligence resulting in a stroke, contact experienced trial attorneys who know how navigate your case through the legal system.  Please call our medical malpractice team for a free consultation if you or a loved one believe medical negligence or a failure to timely diagnose an illness has resulted in further injury to you or your loved one.