It has been long-recognized by the medical community that there is a connection between atrial fibrillation (or, A Fib) and stroke. Further, there are a laundry list of treatments designed to reduce the risk of stroke from A Fib. Nonetheless, mismanagement of A Fib resulting in stroke is a common type of medical malpractice.
The American Heart Association has published guidelines for treatment of patients with A Fib who are at risk for stroke. You can read these guidelines here: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/114/7/700.full. When a physician fails to follow these guidelines, or fails to advise his/her patient about the risk of stroke associated with A Fib, that care falls below acceptable standards.
Under Ohio law, medical negligence occurs when a physician fails to comply with accepted standards of care. The “standard of care” is defined as what a reasonably careful physician would do under like or similar circumstances. Often times, the standard of care varies depending on the circumstances. Not every patient is the same, so treatment measures may vary from patient to patient. Treatment guidelines, like the American Heart Association’s Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation, are meant to assist doctors in deciding what is the optimal treatment in common situations.
When physicians deviate from treatment guidelines, they should have a clear reason for doing so. More importantly, patients have the right to make healthcare decisions for themselves. So, even if the physician feels that guidelines should not be followed, he/she must inform the patient about their treatment options.