Epilepsy is one of the most common traumas that affect the brain but it can be difficult to diagnose accurately and treat adequately.
“Two thirds of epilepsy sufferers have no physically identifiable cause.” ( NICE - National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)
The causes of epilepsy are numerous and wide ranging. In cases of epilepsy misdiagnosis, the symptoms can be confused with other conditions, most commonly a panic attack but also an irregular heart beat and even a migraine.
In cases where a patient may actually be suffering from epilepsy, the correct form of the condition may not be diagnosed. In other instances, patients are misdiagnosed with epilepsy when they may have a cardiac condition, which remains untreated as long as the misdiagnosis continues.
An epilepsy misdiagnosis could mean patients are given treatment or medication:
The use of incorrect drugs and treatment prescribed because of a misdiagnosis can potentially be life threatening and can cause both the patient and their family unnecessary anxiety and stress.
Referral to a specialist...
There are a number of specific symptoms that help to identify different types of epileptic seizures. A GP or doctor should immediately refer a patient suspected of having epilepsy to a specialist for confirmation and to begin appropriate treatment.
If you have good reason to believe that you or a family member has not received the appropriate standard of care through a failure to diagnose and treat epilepsy, and that this has led to further harm and suffering, you need to find out if you have a genuine case of clinical negligence.
Starting a claim for clinical negligence is not always an easy decision and it can be a complicated process to find out the reasons why a doctor or hospital has breached their duty of care to you and your family.
Your Legal Friend has many years of experience in successfully resolving clinical negligence cases. Our specialist knowledge of both legal and medical issues, together with a sympathetic and sensitive understanding of how everyone involved is affected, means we can help you:
Abnormal electrical activity in the brain causes an interruption and temporary change to brain signals. This causes sudden, repeated seizures and convulsions, and can lead to a loss of consciousness.
Defining epilepsy by seizure episodes
Epilepsy is a disease of the brain that can be defined by one of the following:
Basic types of epileptic seizures
There are more than 40 types of seizures, which may be experienced and divided into two groups:
- ‘impairment of consciousness’ and becoming rigid
- jerking with ‘impairment of consciousness’
- fixed staring for a few seconds
- a brief contraction of the limbs
- a brief loss of muscle tone associated with falls.
Prior to complex partial seizures, unexpected tastes or smells may be experienced.
A continuous seizure or recurrent seizures without regaining consciousness can last for 30 minutes or longer.
Following a seizure, residual symptoms such as drowsiness, amnesia, or headaches may be experienced.
Fainting - may be caused by prolonged standing, changes in posture, pain. Often precededby feeling faint, light headedness, blurring of vision, ringing in the ears.
Panic attacks - more common in people with known anxiety. Caused by stressful situations. May be preceded by fear and breathlessness. Typical symptoms include agitation, hyperventilation, and sometimes spasms affecting the hands. One key difference between a panic attack and a seizure is that a panic attack usually does not lead to a loss of consciousness.
However there are further complications associated with these symptoms as hyperventilation can trigger an epileptic attack in people prone to epilepsy and seizures may cause someone to panic.
Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) – affects people with structural heart disease and can be caused by exercise. Typical symptoms include palpitations, breathlessness, or chest pain.
Non-epileptic attack disorders - more common in women than men by a ratio of 3:1. Caused by stressful situations. The symptoms are similar to an epileptic seizure, with side-to-side head or limb movements and prolonged motionless collapse.
MRI scanning - can identify possible causes such as scarring on the brain.
EEG - electrodes attached to the scalp can help detect unusual brain activity associated with epilepsy. However, readings can be normal in people with epilepsy, or may show minor changes in people without epilepsy.
It is important for a GP or doctor to take into account if the patient has the following:
Epilepsy is treated using anti-epileptic drugs (AEDS).There are many different types of AEDS and it is usual for more than one AEDS to be prescribed at the same time.
AEDS are known to have wide ranging and often very intrusive side effects. When a number of AEDS are prescribed to be taken at the same time, there can sometimes be severe side effects which can be life changing.
Epilepsy is difficult to diagnose because:
There can often be an enormous emotional hurdle to overcome before even taking the decision to seek legal advice. You also need to have confidence that your clinical negligence specialists possess the in-depth knowledge and experience of both the complex legal and medical issues involved in securing a successful claim.
To bring a claim for negligence in an epilepsy misdiagnosis, your case needs to demonstrate that:
As experienced clinical negligence specialists, we will investigate your case to obtain answers and to make those responsible for their failure to provide you with an appropriate standard of care account for their actions.
Throughout the claims process, we are committed to acting in your best interests, providing you with advice and support every step of the way. Above all we will fight to secure appropriate compensation for your pain, suffering and losses and to ensure that your medical treatment and care needs are properly met both now and in the future.