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Final Verdict: Initial Diagnosis Correct

Final Verdict: Initial Diagnosis Correct

Medical malpractice cases are almost always complex and require an experienced attorney with the right experts and a thorough understanding of the law surrounding these kinds of incidents. A medical mistake alone does not mean that the patient will succeed; an attorney must show that the medical mistake was preventable and that it directly caused some adverse impact for the patient. Additionally, the adverse impact must be significant; if it is a minor case, the recoverable damages might not be enough to pay for the cost of proving the malpractice.Final Verdict: Initial Diagnosis Correct

Some of the most egregious instances of medical malpractice occur when a patient presents with severe symptoms requiring immediate treatment, but the medical provider or facility fails to recognize it. Because certain conditions have a limited window within which treatment is successful, failing to identify it immediately can mean the difference between life and death.

However, not all such cases are as clear as they seem. Michael S. Mitchell, a 50-year-old man from Wise County, Virginia, checked himself into the emergency room at Mountain View Regional Medical Center in Norton, Virginia on the afternoon of September 17, 2009. Michael told the staff he was believed he was having a stroke, due to headache, weakness, and difficulty speaking. Dr. Jack Cox examined Michael and ordered a CT scan before diagnosing Michael with a migraine headache and prescribing Imitrex.

The next morning, Michael returned, stating he felt much worse. This time, another CT scan revealed that Michael had suffered an ischemic stroke. The Mayo Clinic explains the impact of an ischemic stroke:

About 80 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes occur when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow (ischemia). A thrombotic stroke occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one of the arteries that supply blood to your brain. A clot may be caused by fatty deposits (plaque) that build up in arteries and cause reduced blood flow (atherosclerosis) or other artery conditions.

Michael was immediately transferred to the Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee for specialized care in conjunction with the stroke. He received a blood thinner treatment, but suffered a deep vein thrombosis and an intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding on the brain. Despite receiving emergency surgery, Michael ended up with permanent neurological injuries, including difficulty walking and talking, and will require permanent assistance with his activities of daily life.

For Michael, and Michael’s medical malpractice attorney, the case seemed simple. It appeared clear that he had been experiencing the beginnings of a stroke from the very beginning, since the CT scan confirmed it at the second visit. They sued, arguing that Dr. Cox should have immediately administered tPA to protect Michael’s brain.

The trial took eight days. During it, Dr. Cox’s experts argued that because Michael improved after receiving Imitrex, the original diagnosis was most likely correct, and tPA would not have been indicated due to its strong side effects. They also argued that tPA was not intended for preventative care, but only for an ongoing stroke. The jury found their argument convincing, and found a verdict of no medical malpractice after three hours of deliberation.

Medical malpractice cases are almost always complex and require an experienced attorney with the right experts and a thorough understanding of the law surrounding these kinds of incidents. A medical mistake alone does not mean that the patient will succeed; an attorney must show that the medical mistake was preventable and that it directly caused some adverse impact for the patient. Additionally, the adverse impact must be significant; if it is a minor case, the recoverable damages might not be enough to pay for the cost of proving the malpractice.

Some of the most egregious instances of medical malpractice occur when a patient presents with severe symptoms requiring immediate treatment, but the medical provider or facility fails to recognize it. Because certain conditions have a limited window within which treatment is successful, failing to identify it immediately can mean the difference between life and death.Cohen & Cohen, P.C.

However, not all such cases are as clear as they seem. Michael S. Mitchell, a 50-year-old man from Wise County, Virginia, checked himself into the emergency room at Mountain View Regional Medical Center in Norton, Virginia on the afternoon of September 17, 2009. Michael told the staff he was believed he was having a stroke, due to headache, weakness, and difficulty speaking. Dr. Jack Cox examined Michael and ordered a CT scan before diagnosing Michael with a migraine headache and prescribing Imitrex.

The next morning, Michael returned, stating he felt much worse. This time, another CT scan revealed that Michael had suffered an ischemic stroke. The Mayo Clinic explains the impact of an ischemic stroke:

About 80 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes occur when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow (ischemia). A thrombotic stroke occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one of the arteries that supply blood to your brain. A clot may be caused by fatty deposits (plaque) that build up in arteries and cause reduced blood flow (atherosclerosis) or other artery conditions.

Michael was immediately transferred to the Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee for specialized care in conjunction with the stroke. He received a blood thinner treatment, but suffered a deep vein thrombosis and an intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding on the brain. Despite receiving emergency surgery, Michael ended up with permanent neurological injuries, including difficulty walking and talking, and will require permanent assistance with his activities of daily life.

For Michael, and Michael’s medical malpractice attorney, the case seemed simple. It appeared clear that he had been experiencing the beginnings of a stroke from the very beginning, since the CT scan confirmed it at the second visit. They sued, arguing that Dr. Cox should have immediately administered tPA to protect Michael’s brain.

The trial took eight days. During it, Dr. Cox’s experts argued that because Michael improved after receiving Imitrex, the original diagnosis was most likely correct, and tPA would not have been indicated due to its strong side effects. They also argued that tPA was not intended for preventative care, but only for an ongoing stroke. The jury found their argument convincing, and found a verdict of no medical malpractice after three hours of deliberation.

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