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Failure To Diagnose A Heart Attack May Be Cause For A Malpractice Lawsuit

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

While the signs of a heart attack are often obvious, they can sometimes be mild enough that elderly Americans overlook them. Medical professionals are trained to listen to a patient’s symptoms and know when to order tests to investigate further.

However, sometimes a negligent doctor can overlook an obvious heart attack. A heart attack misdiagnosis can have devastating effects on the patient and family members.

How prevalent is heart disease in the United States?

Every year, over 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women. It accounts for around 25% of deaths nationwide.

Around 735,000 people have heart attacks in the United States every year, and most of these are caused by heart disease. As Americans increasingly struggle with obesity and high cholesterol, their risk of heart disease and heart attacks goes up as well.

What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack (myocardial infarction)?

Heart attack symptoms are not always obvious. The subtle symptoms include cold sweats, lightheadedness, and nausea. These symptoms can occur in a number of different illnesses, so on their own, they may be overlooked.

However, heart attacks are usually accompanied by shortness of breath and chest pain. Women may also experience arm or back pain. These tell-tale symptoms should never be ignored by a medical professional.

What would be considered “malpractice” in failure to diagnose a heart attack case?

Health care providers are required to exercise due diligence and investigate any potential heart attacks. As a general rule, emergency room doctors can be sued if they do not use an acceptable standard of care, including ordering necessary tests to determine if a heart attack has occurred, and asking questions about family history and existing heart conditions.

One of the biggest potential causes of malpractice is a doctor’s failure to order an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) test for determining whether a patient’s heart is working properly. This simple test allows doctors to quickly see whether a patient’s symptoms are due to a heart attack or another illness.

Information about Cardiac arrest and related illnesses

Heart attacks can quickly turn into cardiac arrest, in which the patient’s heart stops beating completely. Since most heart attacks are caused by heart disease, there is a strong correlation between cardiac arrest and heart disease.

However, cardiac arrest can also be caused by underlying conditions, including congenital heart disease and inherited heart conditions. Extreme cases of pneumonia and other illnesses can also escalate to cardiac arrest. Hospitals must be vigilant in determining whether or not a patient is experiencing a heart attack or another cause of cardiac arrest.

Failure to Diagnose Heart Attack Causes Serious Harm

If a heart attack is not properly diagnosed, the patient can easily die of cardiac arrest. In cases where patients survive, the resulting strain put on a patient’s heart results in long-term damage to valves and other critical parts.

Since cardiac arrest can also cause oxygen to be cut off from the brain, patients can suffer brain damage and fall into a coma. The resulting disability may mean that a patient must remain in a nursing home for the rest of his or her life.

What Is My Failure To Diagnose A Heart Attack Medical Malpractice Case Worth?

A medical malpractice claim can add up to millions of dollars if the doctor’s negligence resulted in serious harm or death of the patient. While most malpractice cases result in smaller payouts, heart attack malpractice cases can result in death or permanent injury.

In cases where the victim has lost income or even become permanently disabled, a medical malpractice suit could potentially become the victim’s lifeline. The funds from the suit could potentially keep the victim alive as he or she recovers.

Why Are Heart Attacks Misdiagnosed Or Not Diagnosed At All?

In some cases, misdiagnosis occurs when the doctor mistakes mild heart attack symptoms for heartburn or indigestion. If a patient has no family history of heart attacks, then the doctor may begin investigating other illnesses before ruling out the possibility of a heart attack.

Since the symptoms of a heart attack are slightly different in women than in men, it’s not uncommon for female patients to not realize that they’re suffering a heart attack. A female patient’s heart attack symptoms may also be dismissed as anxiety, especially if she hasn’t been diagnosed with heart disease. It’s up to the medical professional in the room to ask questions about the patient’s symptoms and determine the correct diagnosis, regardless of gender differences.

Holding Negligent Medical Professionals Accountable

In Michigan, medical malpractice laws allow victims to sue health care providers if a doctor fails to diagnose a heart attack. In almost all heart attack malpractice cases, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within two years after the malpractice occurs.

Though medical malpractice lawsuits take significant time and energy, they are well worth it for families who have suffered due to a medical professional’s negligence. Winning compensation can help improve the quality of life for victims and families as they recover.

Malpractice Attorneys Representing Heart Attack Victims

If you or a loved one have suffered from a heart attack that wasn’t properly diagnosed, you need to get the best medical malpractice attorneys on your side. Hospital lawyers will fight hard to keep you from getting the compensation you and your family deserve.

Contact Cochran, Knoll and Associates for a free case evaluation as soon as possible. Our law firm specializes in medical malpractice, and has a registered nurse on staff to assist in evaluating cases.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Emma Reed has a background in Psychology (B.A.) and Medical Anthropology (M.S.) and writes for a variety of medical publications. Her passion is making cutting-edge medical information accessible to a broader audience, and her work often examines the intersections of sociology, anthropology, and medicine.



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