Issue: October 2013
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Brain Aneurysm and Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: Failure to Diagnose, Delayed Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis

Introduction

Brain Aneurysm Diagnostic Errors

As many as 6 million people in the United States – 1 in 50 people – have unruptured brain aneurysms. Approximately 50 to 80% of all aneurysms do not rupture during the affected person’s lifetime. About 30,000 people in the US suffer a brain aneurysm rupture each year, and about 40% are fatal. Among survivors, about 66% suffer some type of permanent neurological deficit.

 

Misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis occurs in up to 25% of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage when the patient initially presents for medical treatment. The failure to do a scan results in 73% of these misdiagnoses.

 

When a health care provider fails to make a timely diagnosis of a brain aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage, or makes an incorrect diagnosis, potential tragedy may occur. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and others should be aware of the types of lawsuits that may arise and how to handle the litigation.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to demonstrate malpractice involving a failure to diagnose a brain aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for a diagnostic error related to a brain aneurysm? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the brain aneurysm injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for a brain aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use? 


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a physician’s liability for malpractice or negligence for a failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosing a brain aneurysm.

Physicians:

A physician should review the items on this list when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving a failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosing a brain aneurysm.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosing a brain aneurysm.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s brain aneurysm injury is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment."

Expert Analysis

What Are the Protocols and Pitfalls in Diagnosing Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage?

Melissa Neiman MD, JD

Why Does Early Detection Make a Difference in the Treatment of Brain Aneurysms?

The Brain Aneurysm Foundation

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons to Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons to Go to Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in malpractice cases involving brain aneurysms?  



Medical Examples

Brain Aneurysms; Rupture

This section provides detailed medical information on brain aneurysms and injury from rupture including terminology, occurrence, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and discusses the patient's prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided below is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on liability for the failure to diagnose a brain aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage. 


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Brain Aneurysm and Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: Failure to Diagnose, Delayed Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Melissa Neiman MD, JD
   The Brain Aneurysm Foundation

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physician and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons to Reach Settlement

Reasons to Go to Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Brain Aneurysms; Rupture

Law and Medicine Resources