Oftentimes, patients present to the Emergency Room with multiple complaints that can give rise to different potential diagnoses. For example, the patient may present to the Emergency Room with primary cardiac symptoms, but also complain of arm and hand numbness. In addition to including a cardiac problem (myocardial infarction or heart attack) as part of the initial differential diagnosis, an Emergency Room physician should also include the possibility that the problems stems from a potential stroke or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), especially if the patient has underlying risk factors for cerebrovascular disease.
Typically, there are standard tests that can be performed by Emergency Room physicians to evaluate the patient’s vascular status as it relates to the potential for suffering a stroke. Some of the standard tests include a carotid ultrasound (carotid Doppler), or echocardiogram.
These tests provide information to the Emergency Room physician about the patient’s vascular status. For example, some strokes are caused by critical stenosis or occlusions of the carotid artery. A carotid ultrasound can detect the presence of carotid artery stenosis. If a critical stenosis is present, a carotid endarterectomy could be performed to avoid the occurrence of a stroke. Additionally, anti-coagulation medical therapy could be provided to lessen the chances of a stroke occurring.
If you or a loved one suffered a stroke within days of presenting to an Emergency Room for treatment, please contact our Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer at Matzus Law. We have significant experience handing all types of medical malpractice cases, including failure to diagnose stroke.