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Misdiagnosis of Vertebral Artery Dissection Leads to Medical Malpractice Death Lawsuit

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A medical malpractice lawsuit was recently filed against several physicians and an Alpena County Hospital for failing to diagnose a vertebral artery dissection in a 28 year old woman.  The woman presented to the emergency department with complaints of severe neck pain and a headache.  Despite these complaints consistent with a potentially fatal condition, the emergency medicine physician concluded that she was suffering from a migraine headache, provided her with pain medicine and a muscle relaxer, and sent her home without performing any imaging studies of her neck or brain.  When the woman’s pain persisted the next day, she went to her primary care doctor’s office for evaluation.  Although the woman’s symptoms continued and she was noted to be nauseous and vomiting, the physician administered a pain shot and anti-nausea medication, diagnosed her with Migraine and Neck pain and sent her home.

A vertebral artery dissection is flap-like tear of the inner lining of the vertebral artery which is located in a person’s neck and supplies blood to the brain.  Once the artery tears, it forms a clot and stops the normal blood flow to the brain.  When this happens, patients typically experience severe head and neck pain, difficulty speaking, loss of vision and/or other stroke-like symptoms.  Patients that present with such symptoms should receive a CT, MRI and/or angiogram to determine the cause of their condition.   If the dissection is diagnosed early, blood thinners can be given to break down the clot and restore normal blood flow to the brain.  In certain circumstances, surgery may be necessary to remove the clot and restore normal blood flow.  It is important that vertebral artery dissections are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible as restoring blood supply to the brain is necessary for survival.

In our case, the young woman collapsed in her father’s arms at home the day after she was seen by her primary care physician.  Despite calling 911 and considerable efforts by physicians at two different hospitals, the woman died the next day.  The cause of death was determined to be a blood clot from a vertebral artery dissection that had been present for more than 36 hours.  The lawsuit claims that if the physicians had properly diagnosed her condition and administered appropriate care, she would not have been discharged and would have survived.

Our medical malpractice lawyers filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the hospital and the physicians involved in her care.  The compensation sought in the case will include the pain and suffering sustained by the woman and the loss of society and companionship her family suffered due to her death.  A claim for funeral and burial expenses and other financial losses was also made.  No trial date has been set by the Court.

If your loved one was killed due to doctor or hospital’s failure to diagnose a vertebral artery dissection, medical malpractice has taken place and you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your loved one.  For more information, call our law firm now at (800) 606-1717.  Our experienced attorneys have significant experience in representing family members of loved ones who have become a victim of medical malpractice.  We have the understanding and knowledge in how to handle these cases against the negligent physicians and hospitals who tragically caused the death of your family member.  We understand this is a difficult time for you, so call today and we will answer all of your questions and concerns that you may have.

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