If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing a stroke it is a very frightening situation. This blog aims to provide some practical advice on what you should do in that situation.

What to do

The sooner a person suffering a stroke gets to hospital, the more likely it is that they will receive effective treatment that can restore blood flow to the affected area, save blood cells and potentially lead to a good recovery. By keeping calm and acting appropriately and fast you can potentially save their life.

If you suspect someone is suffering from a stroke you should carry out the FAST test:

Face: Is there a weakness on one side of their face?

Arms: Can they raise both arms?

Speech: Is their speech easily understood?

Time: to call 999.

If you are unable to call 999 then ask someone else to call 999 whilst you stay with the person that is suffering the stroke. Doing the FAST test then acting immediately to call 999 is vital.

It is also important to be aware that there are other symptoms and signs of stroke which you may notice such as:

•a sudden and very severe headache resulting in a blinding pain •loss of consciousness •complete paralysis of one side of the body •sudden loss or blurring of vision •dizziness •confusion •difficulty understanding what others are saying •problems with balance and co-ordination •difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)

Whilst you wait for the ambulance to arrive it is important to stay with them and reassure them that help is on its way.

Most stroke patients do not require CPR but if you find someone unconscious you should check for a pulse and breathing. If you find none then you need to call 999 as soon as possible and start CPR whilst you’re waiting for an ambulance to arrive. You will be advised by the ambulance service about how to perform CPR.

What not to do 

There are certain things that you should not do when you suspect that someone is having a stroke:

1. Don’t let the person go to sleep

People who suffer strokes often complain of suddenly feeling very sleepy when a stroke happens and they may not want you to call an ambulance preferring to go to sleep instead. Time is of the essence in treating a stroke. You should insist on calling an ambulance and keep them awake as you do this.

2. Don’t give medication, food or drinks.

It won’t be clear to you what kind of stroke the person has suffered from and there are certain strokes caused by ruptured blood vessels in the head that would not benefit from treatment with aspirin. Leave the choice of medication to the doctors to decide once the person is in hospital. You should not give the person any food or drink as they might find it difficult to swallow and could choke.

3. Don’t drive yourself or the person suffering the stroke to hospital

Call 999 and wait for the ambulance to arrive. The ambulance crew are trained to perform life-saving treatment to the person suffering the stroke and this can be done whilst the ambulance is on its way to hospital.

It is important to remember that anyone of any age can suffer from a stroke. Stroke can happen regardless of age or weight.

What we do for our clients who have suffered strokes

We have acted for a number of clients of all ages who have suffered strokes and then received substandard treatment. We have seen first-hand the importance of treating strokes fast and appropriately. We recently settled a claim for our client who was in her 40’s when she suffered a stroke but was negligently sent home from A&E without having had a brain scan. Her condition deteriorated at home overnight and a concerned family member contacted an out of hours GP who arranged for her to be immediately admitted to hospital. Unfortunately by this time the stroke had caused permanent brain damage and she required life-saving brain surgery. Our client was not able to return to work and had to work hard to slowly regain the ability to speak and continue with her life. We settled her claim for £1.9 million and this compensation is being used to put in place the care and support that she will require for the rest of her life.

Freeths Clinical Negligence Solicitors have a national reputation for providing first class advice on all medical claims. If you are concerned about the medical care you or a loved one has received, please contact one of our national team:-

Alicia Gill, Solicitor on 0845 077 9602 / 0116 248 1141 or alicia.gill@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Nottingham/Leicester) on 0845 272 5724 or jane.williams@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) 0186 578 1019 or carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke) on 0845 274 6830 or karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

For further information please also visit our website at: http://www.freeths.co.uk/legal-services/individuals/clinical-negligence/