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Failure to Diagnose Stroke in Emergency Room

CATEGORIES: Misdiagnosis Emergency Room Other Cases CASE LOCATION: Allegheny Co., PA. CLASSIFICATION: Substantial Recoveries

The Alvora Case

Ms. Alvora, a business owner in her 60’s who ran a local bar, met her sister for coffee one early February afternoon. When she entered the coffee shop, Ms. Alvora started complaining of the worst headache in her life, and she began to have sensitivity to light. Her sister tried to get her to eat something, but Ms. Alvora didn’t feel like eating. After a little while, since the headache wasn’t getting any better, Ms. Alvora’s sister said she was driving her to a local Pittsburgh ER.

On the way to the ER, Ms. Alvora vomited in the car and her sister pulled up to the ER and called for assistance to get her out of the car. Three nurses came out to help Ms. Alvora out of the vehicle and into a wheelchair. As her sister was holding the car door open, one nurse said that Mrs. Alvora must have the flu, and her sister stated it was much worse than the flu.

Ms. Alvora’s sister went to park the car as she was wheeled into the ER.

Coincidentally, Ms. Alvora’s nephew was an ER doctor in another local Pittsburgh hospital, and after receiving a call from the sister, came to the ER to see Ms. Alvora.

Ms. Alvora was back in a triage room in the ER, and after no word for over an hour, her nephew (the ER doctor) went back and found that she was being given medication for nausea. He examined his aunt, and when he looked at her, her eyes shifted to the right, which is a known medical condition called nystagmus (involuntary eye movement) and is a sign of a stroke.

The nephew tried to summon the doctor, but the doctor was busy. Finally, after some period of time had passed, the nephew demanded that a doctor examine his aunt. When the doctor finally examined her, he noticed the signs of an ongoing stroke.

Ms. Alvora was ordered a CT scan, but apparently one of the CT scans were broken that night, which further delayed the diagnosis.

After the CT was performed, a stroke was immediately diagnosed and Ms. Alvora was rushed to a larger hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery to evacuate a brain bleed.

Unfortunately, Ms. Alvora suffered the full effects of the stroke and was left with permanent short-term memory loss and inability to walk without assistance.

She is left in this state for the remainder of her life.

A lawsuit was brought against the doctor and hospital for their failure to recognize and treat the signs and symptoms of a stroke earlier, which could have prevented Ms. Alvora’s stroke from worsening to the point of permanent injury. The doctors and hospital defended the case stating that they believed that she had either the flu or vertigo, which would have caused her nausea and vomiting.

After discovery in the case was completed and the case was just about to begin trial, the case settled for a substantial sum.