Mother left severely disabled after brain blood clot misdiagnosedOctober 26, 2023
Mother, 40, is left severely disabled after blood clot on her brain was originally diagnosed by doctors as a migraine
- Ria Doak, 40 had suffered a major stroke as a result of a blocked artery
- Her CT scan at Worcester Hospital was initially interpreted as ‘no abnormality’
A mum has been left severely disabled after a blood clot in her brain was originally diagnosed by doctors – as a migraine.
Ria Doak, 40, was rushed to hospital after her husband found her screaming in pain, frothing at the mouth and incoherent in the early hours of the morning.
The secondary school teacher underwent a CT scan at Worcester Hospital but it was reported as showing ‘no abnormality’.
However, it was later reviewed by a different clinician who found she actually had a partially blocked artery – a sign of a stroke.
Instead of being transferred to a specialist hospital for surgery Ria remained where she was despite being unresponsive.
Mother-of-one Ria Doak was diagnosed by doctors as having ‘no abnormality’ despite being later found to have a had a stroke due to a blocked artery
The mother-of-one had also been displaying stoke-like symptoms including weakness in her left side, headache and slurred speech.
Doctors believed she had hemiplegic migraine, a rare type of migraine which can cause temporary weakness on one side of the body.
The following day Ria was admitted to intensive care where it was confirmed Ria had in fact suffered a major stroke as a result of a blocked artery.
Her family – including husband Jeff, 61, and 10-year-old daughter Mya – were told to prepare for the worst.
She spent more than a month in hospital and nearly five months in a specialist rehabilitation unit before returning to her home in Redditch, Worcestershire.
Mrs Doak, who had to give up her teaching career as head of geography at a local secondary school, is now dependent on others for all aspects of her care.
She has limited mobility and requires a wheelchair. Ria needs equipment to transfer her out of bed, is constantly supervised and has carers visit four times a day.
Following her ordeal, husband Jeff instructed medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate Ria’s care at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
The law firm is now working with the Trust to reach a settlement which will fund the specialist support Ria requires.
Mrs Doak, now 44, and Jeff are now using World Stroke Day to speak for the first time about the ‘devastating’ impact the care issues have had on their family.
Jeff said: ‘Before Ria’s stroke we really enjoyed life as a family. We enjoyed holidays, days out; all of the things that families do and take for granted.
‘Ria was a fun and loving person. She was independent and outgoing and had many friends. Seeing her struggle day after day is heart-breaking.
Mrs Doak, who left her career as a geography teacher, now has limited mobility and has carers visit four times a day
‘If we do anything it all has to be planned. Even things such as going out for meals or meeting friends has to be planned in advance to ensure everything is suitable for Ria. We can’t just do something spontaneously.
‘It’s almost impossible to find the words to describe the person Ria was compared to how she is now.
‘Ria played such an active role in family life, especially helping Mya with things such as her school work and school events, but she can’t do that now.
‘Despite everything we’re so proud of the determination Ria shows every day but even more than three years on, it remains incredibly upsetting to think how Ria’s life has been devastated and she’ll never be the same person again.
‘My focus now is on ensuring Ria can receive the best support she can to life the best life possible.
‘I just hope that by speaking out improvements in care can be made so others don’t have to suffer like our family.
‘If we can help another family by raising awareness of what a stroke can do and what to look out for, than at least some good can come out of this terrible situation.’
Jeff had called an ambulance after finding Ria screaming in pain and frothing at the mouth just before 5am on 5 December, 2019.
The medic who analysed the initial CT scan said there was nothing of significance on the scan and she was diagnosed with a hemiplegic migraine.
Ria was transferred to a ward the following morning. During observations she was noted to be unresponsive and had difficulty speaking.
After concerns were raised about Ria being able to breathe, she was transferred to intensive care at around 12.30pm.
She was reviewed by the stroke team. An MRI scan that afternoon confirmed she had suffered a major stroke and she was transferred to intensive care.
Another clinician reviewed the initial CT scan Ria underwent, finding it showed evidence of a blood clot in an artery in her brain.
Ria was transferred to a neurorehabilitation centre on January 20, 2020, and allowed home on May 6, 2020.
Lawyers working on behalf of Mrs Doak’s family are hoping to reach a settlement with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to ensure she receives specialist care for the rest of her life
Emma Rush, the specialist medical negligence lawyer representing the family, said: ‘Ria suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of her major stroke which we believe would have been avoided if the results of the initial CT scan had been correctly interpreted.
‘We believe that instead of being transferred for specialist surgery on the same day, Ria did not receive the care she should have done leading to her being left severely disabled.
‘The last few years and trying to come to terms with how life has changed for not only Ria, but her family, has been incredibly difficult.
‘While nothing can make up for what’s happened we’re pleased that we’ve at least been able to provide the family with the answers they deserve.
‘We’re now working with the Hospital Trust to reach a settlement which will ensure Ria receives the specialist care, support and therapies she will require for the rest of her life.
‘In the meantime Ria’s story vividly highlights the devastating consequences of stroke.
‘As we join Ria and Jeff in supporting World Stroke Day we call on the Hospital Trust to ensure it learns lessons from the care issues Ria experienced to improve patient safety for others.’
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