Medical Negligence: Claims for Stroke

In Australia in 2020, an estimated 27, 428 Australians experienced a stroke for the first time. This is a medical emergency which is an extremely frightening experience, and patients will turn to medical professionals to provide them the care they require.

If you suffer a stroke, receiving a prompt and accurate diagnosis is crucial to improving the likelihood of an easier recovery and less rehabilitation. However, if a stroke is misdiagnosed, this could lead to extensive and permanent damage to the brain.

A ‘Systematic Review of Malpractice Litigation in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Stroke’ in the US found that spproximately 20% of acute ischaemic strokes were missed in the Emergency Department in both metropolitan and regional referral hospitals. Symptoms of stroke can be mistaken for other medical conditions, and when a medical professional fails to complete the required tests to rule out stroke, the injury to the brain can be exacerbated. Emergency department doctors and GPs will often be the first point of contact for stroke victims, and it is necessary that they uphold their duty of care to investigate, escalate care and treat as required.

Medical negligence in circumstances of a stroke include:

  • Failing to diagnose or incorrect misdiagnosis
  • Disregarding a patient’s symptoms
  • Failure to facilitate treatment in a timely manner
  • Fail to monitor a patient who shows risk factors or symptoms
  • Failure to transfer to new facility

To make a claim against a medical practitioner for medical negligence, we need to establish that they breached their duty of care which directly caused your injury or caused your injury to worsen more than it would have if you’d been correctly diagnosed or treated.

What is a stroke? 

A stroke is the result of a sudden shortage in blood supply to the brain. This prevents the brain from receiving the oxygen and nutrients it requires from the blood. Consequently, the brain cells can die and leave permanent damage to the affected area.1

There are two main types of stroke: ischemic and haemorrhagic.

(Image Source: Stroke Foundation)

An ischemic stroke occurs because of a blood clot or blockage:

  1. Thrombotic stroke -a clot or blockage forms in a blood vessel in your brain.
  1. Embolic stroke – a blood clot forms elsewhere in your body, and travels to block a blood vessel that supplies your brain.

A haemorrhagic stroke occurs when the wall of a blood vessel in the brain suddenly breaks or bursts, which causes a bleed in the brain.

Symptoms of a stroke are varied but include:

  • Weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg
  • Speaking difficulties
  • Dizziness,
  • Loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Sudden onset headache
  • Difficulties walking

For a patient suffering symptom of a stroke, there are multiple tools which will aid a diagnosis including:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Angiogram or ultrasound
  • ECG – to check your heart rhythm.
  • Blood tests

Upon admission to hospital, these tests should be carried out immediately for any person demonstrating symptoms or concerns for a stroke.


It is of life- saving significance that stroke victims receive immediate treatment to reduce the severity of damage to the brain. Delay or incorrect treatment can result in permanent brain damage and sometimes death.

  • For ischaemic strokes, medications can be used to breakdown and dissolve the blood clot (thrombolysis). Alternatively, a thin catheter can be used to remove the clot, a procedure called endovascular thrombectomy.
  • For haemorrhagic strokes, treatment can include; blood pressure control or surgery to; relieve the swelling or repair the ruptured blood vessel.

The acute diagnosis and treatment of stroke is an incredibly time sensitive and high stakes area of medicine. If you believe that you have grounds for compensation due to how a stroke was handled by medical professionals, at Stern Law, we can help you to claim what you deserve.

Long term consequences of stroke can vary depending on a few factors:

  • The area and extent of the brain which is damaged – Different lobes of the brain control different functions of your body; including movement, speech, sight and thought.
  • The type of stroke
  • General health prior to the stroke

Compensation can help to cover:

  • Medical and carer expenses
  • Past/ future Income and superannuation lost
  • Non-economic loss: Damages for pain and suffering
How to Establish a Claim

To establish an action in negligence, with your consent, our firm will collect your personal medical records. These will be reviewed by specialised medical negligence solicitors and expert medical advice to determine whether the care you received, failed to meet the standard of reasonable care which resulted in further harm to you.

Please call us on (02) 9387 1399 or email us at [email protected]

We look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is intended only to provide a summary and general overview of matters of interest. It does not constitute medical or legal advice and should not be relied on as such.

[1] Health direct ‘Stroke’

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