When Strokes Strike the Young, Doctors May Miss the Signs
It may surprise some people to think that children can suffer strokes, but these very serious conditions are one of the top 10 causes of death among children. Approximately 3,000 young people will have a stroke each year, and without quick medical intervention, the children could easily die. Even though doctors should know that children can suffer strokes, many of them do not immediately suspect the condition when children are brought to the hospital.
Fortunately for one Ohio teenager, his mother, a neurology nurse, insisted that he be transferred to the Cleveland Clinic after emergency room physicians assumed he was having a severe migraine. The then-15 year old had awoken with a sharp pain in his head, he had lost his coordination, was nauseous and was having trouble communicating, prompting his parents to take him to the hospital. Originally believed to be a migraine, it took 25 hours before the teen was taken to the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Pediatric Neurology.
By the time he was admitted, his brain was so swollen that surgeons had to remove part of his skull to relieve the pressure. It was not enough, however, and the boy suffered a second stroke. It was during that second stroke that he lost his ability speak and the use of his limbs.
While he has been extremely lucky and has nearly recovered completely, it was just as likely that the emergency room physician’s failure to diagnose could have cost the boy his life or left him permanently disabled. It is a doctor’s job to quickly and accurately determine what is wrong with a patient and failing to do so could result in serious injuries, disability or death. In certain situations, it could also be considered medical malpractice.