Failure to Diagnose Stroke Case by ER Physician at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center

Our 38-year-old client collapsed at home after carrying laundry down the stairs to the laundry room. Her children called for help. EMTs responded and called the case in as an “altered mental status and stroke.”

After she arrived at the emergency room, she was seen by a resident and ER doctor. She underwent a CT scan, which did not show a bleed, so they did not suspect stroke. She was given Ativan for “agitation” although none was witnessed. They kept her another four hours in the ER, suspected a likely psychiatric stress response/conversion disorder to news from four days earlier that her Grandmother was likely going to die from her cancer, and admitted her to the hospital.

Her friends arrived that afternoon and saw signs of stroke. One friend was a physical therapist who did a quick exam and told the nurse to call a neurologist. She had a clot on her brain that had been sitting there for over eight hours, causing preventable brain damage. Due to the delay, clot-busting drugs and clot removal was no longer available.

She is no longer able to return to full time work as a teacher, which is what she wanted to do when her kids were old enough to be left at home. She also suffers from ongoing problems with word finding and right sided weakness.

The defense insurance company was The Doctors’ Company. No offer was made. Trial was 2 1/2 weeks. The jury awarded the full amount of lost earning capacity of $1,000,000, and $2,720,000 for noneconomic damages. Our client, who is 42 now and an educated woman with a Master’s Degree, has 40 more years to live with these conditions.

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