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Caroline Monaghan was seen by her primary care physician, who determined that she possibly had blockage in her carotid arteries. Such a blockage, also known as stenosis, carries a great risk for a stroke. Monaghan then had an ultrasound, which found that she had 70% blockage in her left carotid artery. She was referred to a vascular surgeon who ordered an MRA/MRI. Based upon an incorrect interpretation of the MRA/MRI results, another doctor determined that Monaghan had only 50% blockage.

A carotid artery with 50% blockage is treated with aspirin therapy and monitoring. A test revealing 70% blockage can actually understate the amount of blockage, which could be as high as 99%, requiring emergency treatment.

Unfortunately for Ms. Monaghan, the incorrect reading of her MRA/MRI prevented her from having immediate surgical treatment. Days later, Ms. Monaghan suffered a massive stroke causing severe brain damage.

A Pennsylvania jury found the doctor who incorrectly read the MRA/MRI negligent and awarded over $5 million in damages. Recently an appeallate panel upheld the award.

Failure to timely diagnose and treat symptoms of a stroke can have dire consequences, as is evidenced by this case. When stroke victims are not treated quickly, they can suffer brain injury, paralysis, memory problems, and death. Quick diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious injury and death.

Know the warning signs and seek immediate treatment if you start experiencing any. And never be afraid to ask for a second medical opinion. You owe it to yourself and your family.

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