The potentially dramatic impact of a stroke on your health and wellness cannot be understated. What many people don’t know is that strokes arise from several possible conditions, including brain ischemia (commonly referred to as cerebral or cerebrovascular ischemia).
What is Brain Ischemia?
Brain ischemia occurs when there is insufficient blood flow to the brain. This happens when arteries within the brain become blocked or there is bleeding. The resulting lack of oxygen can cause brain tissue death, cerebral infarction, or ischemic stroke. The longer your brain goes without oxygen, the more serious the damage.
Ischemia is divided into two categories: focal (specific to one portion of the brain) and global (impacting a large general area of the brain). While focal ischemia is often caused by a blood clot, global ischemia is most often linked to heart attacks.
Causes and Symptoms of Brain Ischemia
Brain ischemia can develop due to any number of existing health issues. These include congenital heart defect, cardiac arrest, or heart disease. Other sources can include deformed blood vessels, arterial plaque buildup, low blood pressure, and diseases such as sickle cell anemia.
Brain ischemia manifests in a variety of symptoms. These symptoms may only appear briefly but should be taken seriously. Weakness or numbness to one side of the body, slurred speech, sudden vision problems, dizziness, and loss of consciousness are all potential indicators of the condition.
The Impact of Brain Ischemia on Your Health
Ischemia severe enough to cause a permanent neurologic injury is not subtle. It is life-threatening. Untreated brain ischemia can lead to a stroke, cardiorespiratory arrest, and even permanent brain damage.
Treating Brain Ischemia: Prevention is Key
Preventative medication is seen as the best way of treating brain ischemia, stopping any potential oxygen loss to the brain before it can occur. These include medications designed to maintain blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Alteplase – an injectable drug commonly used to treat blood clots — has been found to be effective against brain ischemia if administered within hours of diagnosis.
There are many drugs that can treat brain ischemia. But the treatment window is very small.
Brain Ischemia Case Results
Below are just a few examples of verdicts and settlements obtained in cases related to brain ischemia.
Washington, 2019: $23.9 million verdict.
A baby was born with permanent brain damage because of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Her parents claim that the staff failed to detect fetal distress during her delivery. She was born unresponsive and her Apgar scores were at 3, 4, and 5 at 1, 5, and 10 minutes. The umbilical cord was also wrapped tightly around her neck. She needed about 30 minutes of resuscitation. At four and a half years old, she experienced cognitive and motor function impairments, which caused her to stumble and fall, to not be potty trained, and to be non verbal. The parents alleged that the fetal heart monitor was tracking the mother’s heartbeat rather than the baby’s. They claimed that if the hospital staff carefully ensured they were tracking the baby’s heartbeat, they would have detected fetal distress earlier and immediately ordered an emergency C-section. The jury awarded the parents a $23.9 million verdict.
Indiana, 2019: $700,000 settlement.
A woman suffered a traumatic hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, the aggravation of her depression, and emotional distress after she collapsed in a doctor’s office. She alleged that she was administered Marcaine without proper resuscitative equipment or medications that would have treated an adverse reaction. The case settled for $700,000, which was to be paid for by the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund.
New York, 2019: $785,417 verdict.
A newborn was delivered via C-section to a 44-year-old mother with a history of four laparotomies and hypertension. He suffered hypoxia and three subacute hemorrhages. His mother alleged that the hospital staff negligently failed to recognize and diagnose hypoxic-ischemia, despite her son being born with the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck. She contended that they departed from the acceptable standard of care by failing to implement significant measures once the doctor experienced difficulty extracting the baby from the uterus. The mother also alleged that hospital staff failed to order an emergency C-section. This case settled for $785,417.
Massachusetts, 2018: $2.1 million settlement.
A newborn infant was diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy shortly after delivery. In a lawsuit, the child’s mother alleged that the operating team negligently chose to administer Pitocin (a drug that assists labor by increasing contractions). The suit asserts that the doctors ignored the patient’s ruptured placenta as well as the drug’s known side effect of uterine hyperstimulation. She maintains that this overall failure to monitor enabled her child’s ischemic brain injury. The suit also argues that the doctors’ actions violated hospital safety standards. The defense claimed that they performed within accepted safety standards. They also disputed the severity and nature of the child’s alleged birth injury. The parties agreed to a confidential pre-trial settlement worth over $2 million.
Maryland, 2013: $8.2 million verdict.
A 42-year-old woman died two weeks after an elective colonoscopy. Her colon was ruptured during the procedure, resulting in cerebral hypoxic-ischemia and a fatal brain injury. The woman’s estate brought a suit claiming her treating physicians failed to properly monitor her condition. The estate specifically alleged that the defendants did not adequately treat the patient’s declining blood pressure and oxygen saturation after the perforation of the colon. The defense denied any malpractice or any departure from the standard of care. The patient’s estate was awarded over $8 million in damages.
Massachusetts, 2012: $3 million settlement.
Upon delivery, a newborn infant showed signs of fetal distress and required immediate resuscitation. The child was diagnosed with a severe hypoxic-ischemic brain injury due to oxygen deprivation. In her lawsuit, the child’s mother alleged that the doctor and nursing staff who performed the delivery negligently refused to deliver the child via C-section. She maintained that her child should have been delivery non-vaginally once signs of fetal distress (including a dropping heart rate) became apparent. The defense denied any malpractice and asserted that the child’s brain injury occurred prior to labor or delivery. The parties agreed to a confidential $3 million settlement.
Maryland, 2006: $2.3 million verdict.
A man was diagnosed with vision disturbances, balance issues, and transient ischemic attack. After an initial consultation with an internist, he was sent for a CT scan and scheduled for a follow-up visit one week later. The man was hospitalized several days later and diagnosed with a stroke. In his suit, the patient alleged that his treating internist failed to properly diagnose the pending stroke or take appropriate immediate action. The plaintiff argued his history of cardiovascular disease left him with an increased risk of a stroke. He sought damages corresponding to past and future medical expenses, loss of household services and injury to his marriage. The defense denied any malpractice, arguing that the stroke was not foreseeable and that his treatment prior to the stroke had been appropriate. In a jury verdict, the plaintiff was awarded over $2 million in total damages.
Getting a Lawyer for Your Ischemia Case
Have you or someone you love suffered an ischemic brain injury because of a doctor’s negligence? If so, you may be entitled to money damages. As you can see, the values of these cases are sometimes very high. If you need a medical malpractice lawyer in Maryland, contact Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.