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The National Health Service (NHS) pays out over £100,000,000 every year in medical negligence compensation claims as a result of failing to diagnose thrombosis or prevent avoidable life threatening blood clots. There are national guidelines that should be followed by healthcare professionals including consultants, doctors and nurses and failure to follow these well-established protocols is likely to be considered as negligence. A medical negligence solicitor who is instructed to take legal action will initially scrutinise the medical notes to establish whether there has been a lapse of protocol. The guidelines indicate that a risk assessment should be carried out to assess risk of thrombosis including the risk of pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis which is also known as DVT.


The NHS Litigation Authority has indicated that it is anticipated that more than 25,000 people a year would die from a blood clot because of failure to follow national guidelines and less than adequate identification and prevention techniques. A head of the NHS Litigation Authority has stated :-

    "The human cost of this preventable condition is devastating but it's only now that the crippling financial cost of poor treatment has been laid bare"


Whilst the NHS have more than adequate prevention guidelines in place, few hospitals treat this issue as a medical emergency and fail to meet mandatory prevention goals. Hospitals are expected to carry out risk assessments on patients with a minimum goal of 90% of patients being screened for potential development of thrombosis or a blood clot however less than a fifth of all hospitals achieve the minimum targets. In real terms this means 4.5 million patients a year miss out on potentially life-saving assessments that could prevent clots and are put at severe risk of permanent physical disability, brain damage and death. Many patients have all of the classic symptoms however untrained or negligent medical staff nevertheless miss clear indicators of a thrombosis. Measures necessary to reduce risk may be as simple and cost effective as compression stockings and blood-thinning drugs to reduce the risk of clots in high-risk patients, including the elderly and those having surgery.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our medical negligence solicitors are specialists and they are members of the Solicitors Regulation Authority panel of clinical negligence experts. In suitable cases they may be able to offer public funding formerly known as legal aid and they will also deal with cases using the no win no fee* scheme. If you would like free advice without further obligation just call our helpline or email our offices. A medical negligence solicitor will speak to you and advise on liability and the estimated value of your compensation claim.

Stroke Information

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain gets interrupted due to various factors. It takes very little time to have the brain cells deprived of oxygen and so they begin to die. Stroke is a treatable condition that needs emergent medical care so as to reduce the effect of the stroke. Strokes are also preventable and treatment by your doctor can both prevent and treat a stroke risk.

The signs and symptoms of stroke include difficulty walking with weakness of one leg or the other. You can have difficulty speaking and understanding words and may be confused. Paralysis of the side of the face or of one side of the body is common. Sight in one eye can be impaired. There can be a severe headache indicating increased pressure in the eye.

A stroke can be of two types. It can be an ischaemic stroke and is an ischaemic stroke in 90 percent of cases. This is caused by a blockage or narrowing of a major or minor artery leading to the brain. The blood clot interrupts the flow of blood to the brain and can be a thrombotic stroke, with an in situ blockage or an embolic stroke, where a blood clot forms elsewhere and travels to a narrowed spot in the artery leading to the brain.

A haemorrhagic stroke is quite different and it results from a broken blood vessel and bleeding to the brain. It occurs as a result of an uncontrolled high blood pressure and of weak blood vessels in the brain. Aneurysms can cause a haemorrhagic stroke. It can result in an intracerebral haemorrhage deep within the brain or a subarachnoid haemorrhage on the surface of the brain. A transient ischaemic attack is a mini-stroke resulting from a temporary blockage of an intracerebral artery that clears itself before permanent damage is done to the brain cells. Some mild changes in brain function can remain after a transient ischaemic attack, in which cases it is called a "partially reversible ischaemic neural deficit" or PRIND.

If you have high cholesterol, you can get a stroke or if you smoke or have diabetes. Overweight people have a higher risk of stroke and if you are inactive you can get a stroke. If you have heart problems, including valvular problems or rhythm problems, you are at risk of stroke. If you are on birth control pills or hormone therapies, you are at risk of stroke and if you are a binge alcohol drinker or use illicit drugs like cocaine or methamphetamines, you can get a stroke. Blacks have a higher incidence of stroke and die from stroke at a greater risk than those of other races.

Diagnosing a stroke relies on a physical examination showing partial paralysis and showing speech difficulties. The doctor will do a thorough medical and neurological exam to diagnose the fact of a stroke. Blood tests will be done to see if you are at risk for bleeding or if your blood sugar is normal. A CT scan is done to show areas of bleeding in the brain in a haemorrhagic stroke. An ischaemic stroke may show up nothing at all in the early stages of a stroke but can at least guide the therapy because haemorrhagic strokes and ischaemic strokes are treated much differently from another. An MRI can show the findings of damaged tissue as a result of ischaemic stroke. Dye is often used to outline the blood vessels and bleeding within the brain. A carotid ultrasound can show blockages of the brain's blood vessels and can determine the degree of blockage of the various arteries involved. Arteriography can outline the blood vessels of the brain. An echocardiogram can be done to see if there are heart abnormalities showing up as risk factors for ischaemic stroke.

The treatment of an ischaemic stroke is different from the treatment of a haemorrhagic stroke. In an ischaemic stroke, there is emergency treatment given as soon as the stroke is defined. Aspirin is given at the time the stroke is identified and blood thinners such as Plavix, heparin and Coumadin can be used, although they are less commonly used recently. Now, an intravenous injection of the clot buster TPA or tissue plasminogen activator is used to quickly break up the clot and preserve brain function. It can only be given within a 4-5 hour interval from the onset of the stroke and cannot be given in cases of a haemorrhagic stroke. It would serve to make a haemorrhagic stroke worse.

In less common cases, TPA is given directly to the brain with a catheter thread through an artery in the groin. Mechanical clot removal is also possible. Treatment to prevent further strokes includes the possibility of a procedure that opens up the carotid artery in a carotid endarterectomy or balloon angioplasty and stent placement.

In haemorrhagic strokes, lowering the blood pressure can lower the bleeding. Blood thinning medicine is stopped and reversed if possible. Surgical clipping of an aneurysm can be done to prevent an aneurysm from bleeding again.



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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here