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Physician Misdiagnoses Stroke Symptoms for Intoxication

When a healthcare provider fails to identify and treat stroke symptoms in a timely manner, the results can be devastating.

It is common for a person having a stroke to have slurred speech, babble, or have trouble finding their words. They may also have balance issues and stumble while walking. When a patient presents with these symptoms, doctors and nurses commit medical malpractice when they misdiagnose the signs of a stroke as a possible cause.

The Signs of a Stroke

Once again we have seen the unfortunate situation where stroke symptoms were mistaken for signs of intoxication. Our client went to an urgent care clinic complaining of tingling and weakness in his left hand and slurred speech. He specifically wrote on the intake form that he was having “stroke-like” symptoms. However, the doctor thought he was drunk and told him to stop drinking. Stroke symptoms frequently mimic the signs of being drunk: disorientation, loss of balance and slurred speech.

Wheelchair Bound

That night, our client suffered a massive stroke. Because of the stroke, his left arm and leg are paralyzed. The divorced father of one is now permanently disabled. He needs a wheelchair to get around and lives at an assisted living facility as a consequence.


It could have all been prevented if the doctor had listened to his patient and had him immediately transferred to a stroke center. The best practice for people with stroke symptoms is to call 911, because they will be taken to a certified stroke center. Walk in clinics are not equipped to treat the sudden onset of stroke.
We reached a confidential settlement in a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and the clinic. It will help provide some of the care our client will need for the rest of his life.


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About The Author

Picture of Matthew Sowell

Matthew Sowell

Matt is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who focuses his practice on medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury claims, particularly those where the client has suffered a stroke. Matt is a national leader in stroke litigation, having served as the founding chairman of the Stroke Litigation Group of the largest organization of trial attorneys in the United States.