The Law Offices of John Phebus

Medical malpractice: stroke, brain damage, life in a wheelchair

It's pretty common knowledge among Phoenix residents that a stroke can lead to severe, long-term disability and death. And it's also pretty common knowledge that high blood pressure can lead to stroke.

Perhaps that's why it recently took a jury just five hours to decide a medical malpractice case against a doctor. Several years ago, the physician had seen a patient -- a man in his 50s with a history of high blood pressure -- many times over 15 years. At several of the visits, the man's blood pressure readings were high; at his last visit to the doctor, he was sent home despite a blood pressure reading of 200/80.

The man had a stroke two days later. As a result, he suffered brain damage and must spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He also suffered significant loss of the use of an arm, a news report stated.

The jury in the case said the man is to receive $7.4 million in compensation, including $350,000 for future lost income, $2.6 million for future medical costs and $3.5 million in other damages. His late wife's estate was awarded $950,000.

Some might wonder how the doctor was supposed to know a stroke was about to hit the man. Well, the doctor isn't psychic, so he couldn't know if or when stroke would hit the patient he had been seeing for 15 years. But he could take reasonable care of his patient.

The man's attorney argued that the Delaware doctor was negligent and should have known his patient was at high risk of a stroke with the blood pressure reading taken at the doctor's office. Even a layperson could simply look at Heart.org, where a chart shows that a systolic reading (that's the higher number in the blood pressure reading) of over 180 means the person is in a hypertensive crisis and "emergency care is needed."

The man's attorney argued that his client should have been immediately hospitalized, rather than sent home with some medicine and a request to return for another visit in a month.

If you have been harmed by a negligent doctor, please speak with a Phoenix attorney who can assess your circumstances and help you pursue full compensation for medical malpractice.

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