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Diagnosing a Brain Haemorrhage in A&E

Diagnosing a Brain Haemorrhage in A&E

If you or your loved one has suffered because doctors in A&E failed to diagnose a brain haemorrhage, you could be entitled to claim compensation for the terrible damage this has caused. To find out more you need to talk to a solicitor who specialises in medical negligence claims.

Diagnosing a brain haemorrhage in hospital

The presentation of patients to the Accident and Emergency Department with the sudden onset of severe headache is a well-recognised risk area of risk in emergency medicine practice. A presentation of this nature would be widely regarded as indicative of a significant neurological event, for example a brain haemorrhage.

As such, presentation of this nature requires appropriate investigations which include a CT scan as the initial investigation of choice. This should be carried out as a matter of urgency. If the scan is normal, a lumbar puncture should be performed. Together these investigations will ensure a timely diagnosis.

Wrong diagnosis of a brain haemorrhage

Only if the CT scan and lumbar puncture are normal can a diagnosis other than a brain haemorrhage be made. Differential diagnoses might include:-

  • Migraine;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Meningitis;
  • Stroke or mini-stroke;
  • Encephalitis.

However, it is important to note that unless and until such investigations have been undertaken and found to be normal, then a differential diagnosis (such as a migraine) is fundamentally unsafe.

Given the implications of a misdiagnosis it is necessary to err on the side of caution. All patients with a severe headache should therefore be investigated for a possible brain haemorrhage.

Failure to diagnose brain haemorrhage in A&E

When a patient presents to A&E with a sudden onset of a severe headache, the expected standard of care would include:-

1. Discussion with a more senior doctor in the Emergency Department of the duty Medical Registrar;

2. Arrangements made for a CT scan, preferably on the same day;

3. Admit the patient under the care of the medical team;

4. If the CT scan is normal, perform a lumbar puncture.

If this standard of care if not achieved by an A&E department and a brain haemorrhage therefore remains undiagnosed, there will be a case of medical negligence. This means the standard of care has fallen below an acceptable level, causing a patient to suffer unnecessary harm.

If this is something that has affected you or your loved one, you need to speak to a solicitor about what action you can take. You could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation, helping you to recover the money you have lost due to medical error.

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