Heart Attack Misdiagnosis
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This is often the result of a blocked coronary artery (a complete blockage is a called a STEMI and a partial blockage is called NSTEMI). Another cause of a heart attack is a spasm of a coronary artery that shuts down blood flow to part of the heart muscle. Heart attacks have also occurred due to a tear in the heart artery.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Each year there are approximately 580,000 people who are experiencing their first heart attack and 210,000 more who have already experienced their first heart attack.
Symptoms vary between men and women. Some of the major symptoms for a heart attack include pain or discomfort. This can be experienced in the arms or shoulders, the jaw, neck or back. Other symptoms include feeling weak, chest pain and shortness of breath. Other signs can include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Quick diagnosis and action are vital for a positive outcome. Although heart attack is a common medical emergency, it is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. When a medical professional fails to properly diagnose a heart attack (indigestion, GERT or muscle strain) or delays a diagnosis of a heart attack, a patient can suffer. Patients may experience temporary or permanent injury and even death. While others are sent home, undiagnosed, untreated, and at risk of losing their life.
Problems occur when nurses, doctors, cardiologists, medical professionals, EMTs, hospitals, and urgent care facilities fail to modify a major risk factor (high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes), fail recognize the early signs of heart attack, and/or fail to timely or properly respond to heart attack (do not order tests – ECG, blood, chest x-ray, CT or MRI). There have been situations where a medical professional ordered an electrocardiogram (ECG) but misread the ECG or didn’t recognize the emergent nature of the condition. Others fail to take a complete medical history or perform a thorough exam. There have been cases where a medical professional recognized the heart attack but didn’t take appropriate actions or follow reasonable standards of care or told the patient to take them self to the hospital. Physicians have even failed to properly diagnose and treat patients who are actually with them while having a heart attack (improper CPR, no cardiac medications provided or improper electrical defibrillation).
All doctors and medical professionals have a duty of reasonable care toward their patients. If they acted negligently and if proper care would have prevented the patient’s heart attack or lessened the extent of damage as a result of the heart attack, could be held liable for medical negligence.
Even with effective universal availability of generally accepted treatment protocols, heart attack misdiagnoses happen frequently. Tami Wolfe knows these cases are highly complex. She has the experience and has successfully litigated medical malpractice claims. She represents clients throughout South Florida including Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, Weston and Sunrise.
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of the negligence of a doctor, nurse or other healthcare provided, contact Trial Attorney Tami Wolfe online or call her at (954) 791-0477 for a FREE consultation.