A Stroke and a Costly Medical Mistake

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The Premise:

At age 62 she was a proud wife, mother, and grandmother. Having worked most of her life, she was looking forward to the joyful years ahead. Retirement years! Travel years! Happy years! Years well-earned! Isn’t that what most want? Isn’t retirement the goal that satisfies those who toil hard, so that the future can serve as the fulfillment of one’s dreams? Yes, yes and yes! But then nature strikes a devastating blow. Without warning or a hint, our 62-year-old is suddenly stricken with a violent headache – one never encountered in 6 decades past. Soon, her left side is a stranger to the other parts of her system. The body alarm is sounding. And the clock on the wall reads 2:05pm.

The 911 call brings on the EMT rescuers. The clock ticks on. They place her on a gurney and wheel her to a waiting ambulance. Once inside, the doors are shut and they’re off with screaming sirens to nearest ER. More than an hour has already passed. Inside the ER cubicle, words are garbled as an attendant in a white coat attempts to gather information. Thirty minutes later, a white frocked person with an MD embroidered on the garment enters the curtained space. Our 62-year-old is almost comatose. “She has all the signs of a stroke,” the MD reports to the others present in the tight cubicle. “Order a CT scan of her head,” he blurts out, before leaving the room.

Thirty-five minutes later, two orderlies arrive and place her on a gurney. They wheel her out. She is returned almost an hour later. She is given medication by a nurse’s aide. Blood pressure has spiked, but is responding slowly to the meds given. Another half-hour passes when the MD returns. He reports that the CT scan disclosed a clot in the major artery feeding blood and oxygen to the brain. A stroke is confirmed. She remains in bed in a stuperous twilight zone. One hour later, orderlies return. She has already been holed up for more than five hours. They place her on a gurney once again and wheel her to a room on the neurology floor of the hospital. The clock on the wall over the nurse’s station reads 8:15pm. Will she be severely disabled? Who can say!

At this point, the only known procedure that could effectively prevent significant brain damage is what is called tPA. These letters are used to describe the medical term “tissue Plasminogen Activator.” In short, tPA is an enzyme fed through an IV that acts to dissolve the clot. When the procedure is completed, and if successful, it opens up the blocked artery so that blood and oxygen can now pass freely to the brain cells, thus minimizing the damage done when the clot blocked sufficient passage. But – and this is a most important “but” – the tPA procedure has a time limit. The window of opportunity in which the tPA procedure must be performed for it to be effective is within 4.5 hours from the onset of the symptoms.

Our 62-year-old wife, mother and grandmother had a severe headache and onset of symptoms at 2:05pm. That means that the tPA procedure must be started within 4.5 hours, or no later than 6:35pm. Sadly, it is now after 8pm and the window of opportunity is shut, and the clot is doing its nasty work.

Although the ER MD who identified the symptoms as a stroke is correct in the diagnosis, a gross mistake was made when the window of opportunity, within which a tPA procedure could have been performed, was overlooked. And for that gross error, there must be consequences. As for the 62-year-old retiree, the future life of joyful times is forever lost, and the past life of toil is nothing more than a closed curtain to what was an expected future of earned retirement. A medical mistake has now trashed the dreams of a hard-working retiree. She must now face a future not of joy, but of pain, suffering and tragedy.

Finz & Finz, P.C. has represented victims of medical malpractice for more than 35 years. Unfortunately, negligently failing to promptly treat a stroke victim is not an uncommon occurrence, and following such a grave mistake, it could take years of physical, cognitive and emotional therapy to regain any sort of quality of life. If you or someone you love has suffered from the failure to promptly diagnose and treat a stroke, please contact us now. We will do everything we can to help you and your family get through this most difficult time.

The Message:

  • “A DESERVED LEGACY IS THE ETERNAL RESIDUE OF A LIFE WELL-SPENT WITH A JOYFUL RETIREMENT FOREVER LOST”

Leonard L. Finz, age 96, is a decorated WWII veteran (1st Lt., Field Artillery, Philippines), a former New York State Supreme Court Justice, Peer-Reviewed as “One of America’s Preeminent Lawyers”, and the Founder of Finz & Finz, P.C.