Mayo Clinic defines subarachnoid hemorrhages (SAH) as bleeding in the space between the brain and the membranes above it. Known as the subarachnoid space, this area sits directly below the arachnoid mater and dura mater, which attach to the skull. Essentially, a SAH refers to bleeding that occurs in the space between the brain and the membranes attached to the skull.
How Subarachnoid Hemorrhages Occur
A SAH often results from the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain caused by head trauma, but it may also occur sporadically or in conjunction with another medical condition. According to Healthline, causes of SAH may include:
- Brain aneurysms
- Bleeding from blood vessel defects known as arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
- The use of blood thinners
- Trauma to the brain as the result of a head injury
Elderly people carry a high risk for SAH and may suffer the injury as the result of a fall or abuse. An article from the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, & Psychiatry notes that incidences of this condition in people over age 75 continue to increase.
Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Symptoms
Healthline explains that SAH symptoms often come in suddenly and encompass a range of effects on the body. Those affected by SAH typically experience a sudden, splitting headache, particularly at the base of the skull, which can lead to loss of consciousness if left untreated. Other signs of SAH may include:
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Body numbness
- Confusion or irritability
- Vision trouble
- Nausea or vomiting
Dangers of Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
Many health complications can arise from SAH. While doctors can treat certain complications, others may persist chronically or result in death. SAH may cause:
- Cerebral vasospasm
Medical Care for Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
If you suspect that you or a loved one experienced a SAH, you should seek emergency medical treatment immediately, as early detection and treatment may help prevent complications.
While a doctor may presume a diagnosis of SAH based on symptoms, particularly if the patient experiences a severe headache and vision problems, they will typically order other tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the SAH. This may include imaging tests such as:
- Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan to check for the presence of bleeding
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to view precise images of the brain
- Transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound to measure blood flow in the arteries of the brain
- Cerebral angiography X-ray to check for blood flow in the brain
Depending on the results, the medical provider may recommend repeated imaging tests or a lumbar puncture, in which they remove a small amount of spinal fluid and test it for the presence of blood.
Treatment options for SAH depend on the cause and extent of the condition. Doctors may recommend one or more of the following:
- Drainage of fluid
- Surgery to stop and prevent further bleeding
- Prescription and intravenous medications
- Bed rest
- Artificial ventilation
Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Cases in Nursing Homes
A nursing home resident may suffer a SAH as the result of an accident, such as a slip, trip, or fall. However, instances of nursing home abuse and neglect continue to increase, as do nursing home abuse lawsuits. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), nearly one-third of all U.S. nursing homes received citations for federal violations, and over half of nursing home staff questioned in a study admitted to the physical, mental, or emotional mistreatment of residents.
Because it often occurs behind closed doors, family members may find it challenging to observe or prove the abuse of a loved one in a nursing home. If your loved one can communicate with you, be sure to ask them regularly how they feel about their care and encourage them to be open and honest about any concerns. Warning signs of abuse include:
- Emotional or physical changes
- Avoidant or aggressive behavior
- Dehydration or malnourishment
- Signs of inadequate care or staffing, such as unresponsive nurses, rushed care, unanswered calls for help, or noticeable employee turnover
Taking Legal Action
Do not hesitate to contact the nursing home administration about your concerns. Documentation of incidents can help you seek the legal assistance of a nursing home lawyer and hold those responsible for the abuse of your loved one accountable for their actions.
If you suspect that your loved one suffered nursing home abuse that resulted in a subarachnoid hemorrhage, the attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek compensation and justice.