For serious medical problems, timely treatment has perhaps the greatest effect on patient outcomes. If detected and treated as early as possible, several of the most common killers – heart attack, stroke and cancer – are survivable. But misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose are common medical errors that result in too many preventable deaths.

According to a recently published study, a significant number stroke victims come to hospital emergency rooms in the 30 days prior to their stroke but are discharged because physicians do not correctly attribute their symptoms to an impending stroke. The study’s authors concluded that this happens approximately 12.7 percent of the time.

Researchers examined data from nine states on 187,188 patient admissions for stroke. Of these patients, about 12.7 percent had gone to the emergency department in the 30 days prior to their stroke and were discharged with a non-cerebrovascular diagnosis. In human terms, that amounts to about 23,809 patients whose stroke symptoms may have been missed by medical professionals.

Stroke is a condition more associated with the elderly. As such, younger patients were more likely to have a probable missed diagnosis, the study’s authors found. Women and minorities were also more likely to have a probable missed diagnosis compared to white men.

As most people know, strokes can be fatal. And even when patients do not die, they may be left partially paralyzed or otherwise have reduced motor function for the rest of their lives. Therefore, it is crucial to diagnose a stroke or potential stroke as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one suffered a stroke and believe that your doctor missed the warning signs, you may be able to seek compensation. Please share your concerns with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Source: Medpage Today, “Stroke Rounds: Early Signs of Stroke Missed in Many Cases,” Todd Neale, April 7, 2014