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Caring for someone after a stroke: how compensation can help following misdiagnosis

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    During Stroke Awareness Month, Solicitor Amy Chater considers the additional injuries a patient can suffer if there is a delay in diagnosing and/or treating stroke, and how financial compensation can assist patients affected.

    By Amy Chater

As specialist Clinical Negligence solicitors, clients contact us when they are concerned that either they themselves, or a loved one, has suffered negligent medical treatment, whether that is because a condition has been misdiagnosed, incorrectly treated or missed completely. Diagnosis and treatment of strokes in particular are fairly common stories that we hear about.

May 2016 is the annual Stroke Awareness month organised by the Stroke Association to show support for stroke survivors and to help raise awareness of strokes, and the signs and symptoms.  This is a very important campaign seeking to inform patients and doctors alike, and to ensure diagnosis and treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

My colleague Judith Leach previously wrote about how strokes can be misdiagnosed in A&E. She also explained that “there is a great deal written in the media in relation to recognising the signs and symptoms of stroke, timely treatment and the rehabilitation needed following a stroke”.

My blog will consider how a specialist solicitor can help a patient if there was a failure to recognise the signs and symptoms of a stroke and provide timely treatment. Such a failure can result in avoidable and devastating injury to the patient.

Investigating a negligence case

After investigations have taken place to check whether the Hospital/GP/medical professional was negligent in their diagnosis or management of stroke, the next step is to work out how the patient has been affected by the negligence. Strokes can be fatal or cause mild to severe brain injury with a range of physical and cognitive effects, all of which can be made worse by delays in diagnosis and treatment.

What can be claimed is dependent on an independent assessment by a Neurologist (and other experts) as to what damage and effects would have been avoided were it not for the negligent treatment. Ultimately, any claim for compensation is to put the patient back in a position they would have been in had the negligence not taken place. Whilst unfortunately it is not possible to take away the patient’s injuries, in the context of a claim the patient is compensated by putting a figure on the losses they have incurred as a result of the injuries and effect on their life, whether physical, psychological or financial.

Compensation

However a patient has been affected by a stroke, whether the results are mild or catastrophic, it is likely they will require, at the very least, care and rehabilitation. Regular daily nursing care can be of vital assistance to families so that family members and friends who might have been taking on the role of carer, can return to their previous ‘roles’. It is usually much preferred by the patient too.

Here are a few other examples of what the compensation can cover the costs of:

  • Speech and Language Therapy. Speech is often affected as a result of a stroke so proper regular therapy can be extremely beneficial;
  • Physiotherapy. As with speech therapy, physiotherapy is a vital part of stroke rehabilitation, depending upon the extent of the injury suffered;
  • Occupational Therapy. There are usually many pieces of aids and equipment which help patients and their families in their new daily routine when someone has suffered physical injury due to a stroke. Equipment can include anything from adapted tin openers to hoists, wheelchairs and stair lifts etc;
  • Adapted car/additional transport costs. If the patient is still able to drive but needs the car adapting to do so then the costs can be included. If they are unable to drive then additional costs for taxis, for example, could be claimed;
  • House adaptations or a new home. Depending on the extent of the injury and how much would have been avoided were it not for the negligence, the costs of a new home could be claimed, or adaptations to the existing home to make it user friendly.

This is not a complete list as there are many more losses which can be claimed for and each case is considered based on the individual patient and their particular circumstances.

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