Stroke Awareness Month aims to raise awareness of this medical condition, which continues to be the leading cause of disability in the UK.

Currently there are 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK living with the long-term effects of a stroke, which can include weakness or paralysis, tiredness and fatigue and communication problems.

In 2020/21, there were approximately 128.7 thousand hospital admissions for stroke in the UK.*

Matthew Brown, Senior Legal Executive at Medical Solicitors explains why it is important to act quickly and seek medical attention if you think that you or a loved one is having a stroke. He also shares the details of case where he represented a client who was left with permanent paralysis following a delay in the treatment of a stroke whilst they were a patient on an Acute Stroke Ward.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a serious life-threatening condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.

There are three types of stroke:

• Ischaemic – where the blood supply is stopped because of a blood clot, these account for 85% of cases

• Haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts

• Transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – also known as a ‘mini stroke’ and occurs when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted (a TIA should still be treated as a medical emergency)

Stroke strikes every 5 minutes in the UK and can happen to anyone at any age or time, the consequences can be devastating and, in some cases, life threatening.

Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential once the signs of a stroke are spotted - the sooner a person receives treatment, the less damage is likely to happen.

The Stroke Association launched the FAST campaign in 2005, which served as a catalyst for raising awareness and the priority given to stroke. The campaign ensured fast treatmentfor survivors and drove improvement in acute stroke care and outcomes.

The FAST test is below:

• Facial weakness: can the person smile/has their face/eye drooped?

• Arm weakness: can they raise their arms?

• Speech problems: can they speak clearly and understand you?

• Time to call 999.

Case Study – Stroke Compensation

In this case study below, Matthew explains how a delay by staff on an Acute Stroke Ward to recognise the signs and symptoms of a stroke and the failure to administer thrombolysis (a treatment to dissolve blood clots), left his client with permanent paralysis.

On 18th November 2013, our client, ‘C’ felt a sudden aching sensation in her right arm, and believed she was having stroke. Paramedics attended at her home and upon examination, said that ‘C’ was ‘FAST’ positive. ‘C’s symptoms improved during the blue light transfer to hospital and after assessment in the Medical Assessment Unit, the working diagnosis was that of a possible ‘TIA’.

A CT scan was said to be “unremarkable”, therefore ‘C’ was admitted to the Acute Stroke Ward for observation. At around 3am on 19th November, ‘C’ reported increasing weakness in her right hand but was reassured by a Healthcare Assistant and encouraged to sleep.

When she awoke, ‘C’ was paralysed down her right side. She had a dense weakness in her right arm and leg, and her power in each of the upper and lower right limbs was recorded as 1/5. An untimed entry in her records by a Consultant Physician noted that it was “disappointing not considered for thrombolysis”.

‘C’ was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke. She remained in hospital and underwent physiotherapy treatment. Upon discharge from hospital in December she required round the clock care, having previously been extremely fit and active.

Several months passed and on 17th April 2014, ‘C’ underwent a review at the Stroke Clinic where she was discharged from further follow-up appointments. ‘C’ continued to engage with neuro-physiotherapy treatment on a private basis but has not regained any significant use of her right hand and arm.

Compensation for failure to diagnose and treat a stroke

With the assistance of her husband, ‘C’ pursued a complaint about the treatment provided, and in March 2016 the Hospital Trust admitted breach of duty but denied causation of injury.

The Trust admitted that when ‘C’ reported increasing weakness in her right hand in the early hours of 19thNovember, there should have been a rapid review by a nurse. This would have resulted in review by a doctor and, ultimately, thrombolysis being offered.

Despite admitting that ‘C’ was a good candidate for thrombolysis treatment, the Hospital Trust denied that this would have been of any benefit to ‘C’.

The case settled for £400,000 in an out of court settlement.

Our friendly team of specialist lawyers are experienced in brining successful stroke negligence claims.

Matthew Brown is a stroke claims expert at Medical Solicitors and can be contacted on 0114 250 7100.

You can follow the Stroke Associations Campaign online by following the hashtags; #StrokeAwarenessMonth and #MakeMayPurple.

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Our stroke expert is

Matthew Brown

Senior Legal Executive