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Docs, Families May Underestimate Patients' Odds After Some Strokes: Study
Date:2/7/2013

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors may sometimes be too pessimistic about a patient's potential for recovery after a major bleeding incident occurs in the brain, a new study suggests.

As a result, some families could be deciding to stop their loved one's life support too soon, pre-empting the possibility of successful rehabilitation and recovery from a certain form of stroke.

The research found that more than one-third of people who have had life support stopped after having a type of bleeding in the brain called an intracerebral hemorrhage -- considered the most lethal form of stroke -- might have eventually regained an acceptable level of functioning if the life support had been maintained.

According to the American Stroke Association, hemorrhagic stroke accounts for about 13 percent of the 795,000 stroke cases that occur every year in the United States.

"It has become clear that we're probably not fantastic at predicting outcomes in these patients," said Dr. David Tirschwell, lead study author and co-director of the University of Washington Stroke Center at Harborview, in Seattle. "There seems to be some built-in pessimism among doctors about how patients will do."

According to Tirschwell, the crystal ball can often be rather cloudy in these cases. Most decisions to withdraw life support are made by a spouse or family members in consultation with physicians in the first few days after hospitalization from the intracerebral hemorrhage, he noted.

The new research suggests that this time frame is often too soon for doctors to be able to offer a reliable estimate of the patient's chances for recovery. "People can look pretty bad today, but it's hard to make the leap about what things might be like a number of months down the line," he explained.

Intracerebral hemorrhage results from a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into th
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Docs, Families May Underestimate Patients' Odds After Some Strokes: Study
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