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Failure to Treat TIA Leads to Stroke

$1,237,321 – Medical Malpractice/Negligence

Facts

A doctor’s failure to recognize transient ischemic attacks led to massive stroke in a woman, resulting in vision problems, left-sided weakness, and shortened life expectancy.

On December 22nd plaintiff saw her primary physician, Dr. Francis Chu, complaining of pressure in her right eye, decreased vision, and flashes of light when her vision returned. She reported to Dr. Chu that she had two prior episodes within the last week of feeling like she was being pulled to the right and in one episode she fell. Dr. Chu noted the unusual presentation and his diagnosis was possible migraine headache variant vs. other neuro symptoms. Dr. Chu was aware that plaintiff had been previously diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, which increased the risk of blood clots. Dr. Chu was aware that five months earlier, she had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and was on Warfarin therapy to reduce the risk of blood clots. Plaintiff was sent home with no further treatment prescribed. On January 2nd she suffered a stroke which has caused permanent and irreversible impairments.

Allegations/Contentions

Plaintiff contended, and the Arbitrator found, that Dr. Chu’s care of plaintiff fell below the standard of care and that with proper diagnostic testing, followed up by appropriate medical treatment, plaintiff’s left vertebral artery condition would have been diagnosed and that the shower of clots that caused the stroke on January 2nd could have been dissolved and the stroke avoided.

Injuries/Damages

Plaintiff has permanent vision problems and lack of muscular synchronization. She has permanent weakness of her left side and diminished sensation on her right side. Her life expectancy is shortened.

Results

The matter was arbitrated before the Honorable John W. Kennedy, Jr., retired, in Riverside, California, over five days. Plaintiff received an arbitration award of $1,237,321. Her husband received $30,000 for loss of consortium.

Special Notes

This is the second Kaiser case arbitrated by Attorney Robert Vaage involving the failure of Kaiser physicians to identify signs and symptoms of transient ischemic attacks (TIA), mistaking the symptoms for some form of migraine. Per Vaage, “If you have TIA and a migraine as potential diagnoses, you have to rule out the potential life-threatening, time-sensitive problems that can cause TIA. In both cases that was not done, and the patients went on to have a devastating stroke.”

The California legislature limited general damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA) to $250,000. The balance of the award to plaintiff was for income loss and future medical care.


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