Strokes or cardiovascular accidents (CVAs) often give rise to medical negligence cases. There are a number of factors behind this basic fact: (1) Prophylactic measures are available to prevent many CVAs. For instance, patients with atrial fibrillation may benefit from preventative anticoagulation, depending upon their age, blood pressure, past medical history and related factors. (2) Time is of the essence in treating stroke once it occurs. Therefore, a critical delay in treatment can lead to unnecessary brain injury. (3) The medical condition is exceedingly common, being the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term severe disability. (4) When it occurs, the results can be devastating, resulting in severe disability, loss of the ability to work and long-term medical costs. Recent studies shed light on the causation element of medical negligence claims that arise out CVAs.
In Ohio, to prove a claim for medical negligence (also called medical malpractice), a patient must show: (1) negligence, (2) causation, and (3) damages. The causation element is often challenging because it requires proof that, if there had been no negligence, the patient would not have had a CVA or the CVA would have been less disabling. Since no one has a crystal ball, and often the caregiver’s negligence obscures key facts, causation can be difficult to prove. Further, it would be unethical to conduct studies which compare patients who are treated properly with patients who are subjected to negligent care, so there is no definitive staging to rely on. Add to this difficulty the fact that the defense will find a shill expert to say whatever they need.
But that does not mean that a medical negligence case cannot be proven when a hospital or doctor causes an unacceptable delay in recognizing a CVA and administering treatment. Two recent studies, the NINDS and DRAGON studies, show that early intervention with the clot busting medicine, tPA, is efficacious in resolving stroke once it occurs. Likewise, other studies show that anticoagulation in certain populations is effective in preventing stroke.
Medical malpractice cases require skilled, experienced lawyers with resources and knowledge about both law and medicine. We have handled numerous cases involving stroke and know the ins-and-outs of proving causation in these challenging cases.