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Medical researchers: More accuracy needed in stroke detection

According to a recent study, far too many patients who show up at emergency rooms in Ohio and across the country with symptoms of a headache or dizziness are not being sufficiently checked for signs of stroke.

And that can be fatal.

Indeed, the lead author in a recent Johns Hopkins research effort says that failure to diagnose stroke when a patient presents with stroke-like symptoms could result in harm — often death or a permanent disability — as many as 165,000 times a year in the United States.

It is extremely important that doctors act quickly when stroke symptoms are on display, given that a timely diagnosis can result in treatment that addresses and halts a catastrophic occurrence such as a brain clot or massive cranial bleeding.

David E. Newman-Toker, a doctor and academic who led the Hopkins study, says that ER doctors are too often not acting quickly enough in instances of so-called “ministrokes” that often precede full-blown strokes. In fact, many patients with stroke symptoms are being misdiagnosed with more benign conditions; or, worse, not being diagnosed at all.

And many of them subsequently return to the hospital quickly thereafter with either life-threatening or fatal conditions.

Newman-Toker and his team of researchers say that certain patient groups are especially susceptible of a faulty diagnosis, even when they show up at emergency rooms with stroke-like symptoms.

Younger people, for example (defined in the Hopkins study as patients under the age of 45), are about seven times more likely than other members of the general population to be released from an ER with a missed stroke diagnosis. Women and minorities also suffer an incorrect diagnosis at a higher-than-average rate, say Hopkins researchers.

To learn more about stroke misdiagnosis, contact the attorneys at The Eisen Law Firm for a free consultation.

Source:  Medical Xpress, “ER doctors commonly miss more strokes among women, minorities and younger patients,” Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, April 3, 2014