A 15-year-old boy who lives due north of Charleston woke up one morning nearly a year ago with a blinding headache. At the emergency room, doctors who checked his symptoms said the young rugby player had a migraine.
Twenty-five hours went by before doctors acted to treat the Parma Heights, Ohio, boy. His mother demanded he be transported to Cleveland Clinic, where physicians determined the teenager had suffered a stroke. As it turns out, the doctors' failure to diagnose apparently did not leave the young man with lifelong disabilities; he's one of the lucky stroke victims who has largely rebounded from the incident.
In fact, he had two strokes. After the first one, doctors removed a part of his skull to relieve pressure on his swelling brain. A second stroke robbed him temporarily of his speech and movement of his limbs.
Now 16, he has regained most of what he lost. But for many other young stroke victims, while their chances of survival are greater than older stroke victims, after surviving they face decades of "lingering neurological or cognitive impairment."
Two-thirds of child stroke victims have residual impairments and one out of five will have another stroke at some point in their lives.
In all stroke victims, one of the keys to survival and recovery is the speed at which they receive initial medical treatment. But in pediatric strokes, the average delay in diagnosis is 28 hours, experts say.
Stroke risk is highest in infants, happening to about one out of 3,000 babies. Experts estimate that up to half of all pediatric strokes happen in the first year of life.
So often doctors miss the signs of stroke in children -- nausea, headaches, sensitivity to light -- and let precious hours slip away when treatment could help hold damage in check.
Anyone harmed by misdiagnosis should speak about their legal options with an attorney familiar with this complex area of law.
Source: ABC News, "Pediatric Stroke Often Misdiagnosed, Treatment Delayed," Susan Donaldson James. Feb. 11, 2103
- Our Kanawha County law firm represents clients in Charleston and across West Virginia harmed by medical malpractice.