Neurologists are doctors with specialized training to diagnose and treat brain, spinal cord, and nervous system disorders.
Primary care physicians or hospitalists frequently make referrals or order consultations to neurologists to work up potential issues.
The standard of care requires neurologists to make a careful evaluation of patients using a thorough physical exam and tests that show whether the patient has a normal neurological function. These tests include things such as carnial nerves, reflexes, motor strength movement, sensation, and balance. Plus, through the patient history interview and physical exam process, neurologists assess the patient’s memory and thought processes.
From an analysis of 2019 medical malpractice lawsuits, the most common allegations or criticisms against neurologists include:
• Failure to make a timely diagnosis (45% of all claims)
• Poor outcome and progression of the neurological disease (29% of all claims)
• Complications from treatment or surgery (20% of all claims)
• Failure to timely treat a condition after diagnosis (19% of all claims)
• Wrongful death (12% of all claims)
The study results are consistent with my experience. One of the biggest problems I see with the care provided by neurologists is the tendency to rush through the initial exam without really listening to the patient or family members about what’s going on.
This significant mistake can cause neurologists to settle on the simplest explanation and diagnosis that comes to mind, rather than considering all the potential medical conditions that could cause a patient’s problems. From there, it’s a domino effect. Misdiagnosis leads to the wrong treatment. A delayed diagnosis of the correct condition means that there is also a delay in implementing the correct treatment.
I’ve seen this happen frequently in emergency room cases involving strokes. It often happens like this. A patient arrives in the emergency room with symptoms that are consistent with a stroke, but the emergency physician is unsure and orders a consultation with a neurologist. The neurologist shows up in the patient’s room and learns that one of the complaints is a persistent headache. At that point, the neurologist stops listening or considering anything else and chalks the patient’s issues up to a migraine headache.
I’ve handled multiple cases where this is exactly what happened and a patient was discharged from a stroke center hospital with the wrong diagnosis. Later, the patient learned that they were either having a stroke or about to have a stroke at the time of discharge. Sadly, because of the neurologist being in a hurry and not doing a comprehensive exam and testing, these people are left with lifelong neurological injuries that keep them from returning to work or even leading a normal life.
Because neurologists deal with conditions of the brain and nervous system, their mistakes can be devastating for patients. Misdiagnosed, improperly treated patients of neurologists can end up with brain injuries, paralysis (quadriplegia or paraplegia), inability to walk, and many other deficits.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor neurology care, then contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.