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Overlooking signs of stroke in the ER

No matter what the setting, accurate diagnosis is crucial to effective medical care.

It doesn't matter whether the doctor is serving in a small clinic or in the teaming emergency department of a major hospital. Regardless of the exact infrastructure, doctors need to get it right.

Unfortunately, they often do not. In this post, we will discuss a recent research study showing that emergency-room (ER) doctors often fail to detect stoke symptoms.

The study was done by Johns Hopkins University. It found that doctors in the ER often overlook signs of stroke in certain categories of people.

Led by a Johns Hopkins neurologist, a team of researchers looked at hospital-discharge data from almost 200,000 people who suffered strokes.

The research showed that many people who were diagnosed with strokes and admitted to the hospital had previously been to the ER within the previous month. They had been there with issues involving severe headaches and dizziness.

Of the people who were admitted after a stroke diagnosis, nearly 13 percent had made these previous ER visits.

This suggests that the ER doctors may have failed to diagnose strokes on previous occasions. To be sure, a severe headache does not necessarily indicate a stroke. It could be migraine, not a stroke.

But when an acute headache is combined with slurred speech patterns, or a drooping face, doctors should be looking closely for signs of possible stroke.

This is not only because some strokes don't fit the usual profile. It is also because a seemingly minor episode could be the forerunner of a more extreme occurrence - namely a severe stroke.

Signs Of Stroke In The Young," Linda Poon, April 5, 2014

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