Pediatric stroke often misdiagnosed

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When most people think of stroke victims, they conjure up an image of an elderly person who has lost some motor function and language control. Stroke is a silent killer of another population that is rarely recognized as vulnerable to such conditions: children. Strokes in kids are far more difficult to diagnose because they are relatively uncommon. Families whose children have been subjected to medical malpractice because of incorrect stroke diagnosis may be entitled to financial compensation.

Emergency room physicians often misdiagnose strokes as simple migraines among children. The fact remains that childhood stroke is most common among newborns and fetuses in the late stages of pregnancy; teenagers, while vulnerable, are not the most likely victims. As a result, doctors often miss the warning signs of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes among youngsters, causing even more damage.

Anecdotal evidence yields countless stories of teens – mostly boys – who have been treated and released without ever being evaluated for stroke. Some of these youngsters have suffered serious medical problems because of doctors’ recalcitrance; common treatments include removing chunks of skull to accommodate brain swelling. Teens tell stories of being put on breathing machines and other life-support equipment simply because their physician did not catch the stroke early enough.

Many stroke victims face arduous recovery timelines. They must undergo extensive rehabilitation to recover their ability to speak, eat and perform other daily tasks. The good news is that the vast majority of teen stroke victims survive; the bad news is that their quality of life is often severely diminished. Many are unable to participate in sports and other activities after their strokes.

Victims of stroke who have been misdiagnosed should consider filing malpractice suits against the physicians who made the error. The suit would provide financial compensation for long-term care that stroke victims so desperately need, including occupational and physical therapy.

Source: ABC News, “Pediatric stroke often misdiagnosed, treatment delayed,” Susan Donaldson James, Feb. 11, 2013.