Failure To Diagnose Heart Attacks

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle itself – the myocardium – is severely reduced or stopped. The reduction or stoppage happens when one or more of the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle is blocked. This is usually caused by the buildup of plaque (deposits of fat-like substances), a process called atherosclerosis. The plaque can eventually burst, tear or rupture, creating a “snag” where a blood clot forms and blocks the artery. This leads to a heart attack. If the blood supply is cut off for more than a few minutes, muscle cells suffer permanent injury and die. This can kill or disable someone, depending on how much heart muscle is damaged.

10 Frightening Facts about Heart Attacks: A heart attack occurs about every 20 seconds. Death caused by a heart attack occurs about every minute. Almost 14 million Americans have a history of heart attack or angina. One in 50 heart attack victims are mistakenly sent home by emergency room doctors. Women are the most common victims of failed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of heart conditions. More than 233,000 women die annually from heart disease. Women don’t experience chest pain. Instead, they frequently experience nausea and even vomiting during a heart attack, which leads emergency room doctors to incorrectly diagnose it as a gastric disorder. Emergency treatments are denied or delayed way too often when the heart attack victim is a woman. According to a recent study, women waited an average of 23 minutes longer than men for clot-buster treatments, which can stop a heart attack. Frequently, when a patient is rushed to the emergency room complaining of discomfort, doctors attribute it to indigestion, fatigue, or stress, which delays prompt medical attention. A misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a heart condition puts the patient as risk for paralysis, stroke, and potentially — death.

Tests to See if You Are Having A Heart Attack

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

This is a graphic record of the electrical activity of the heart as it contracts and rests.It can often detect areas of damage, inadequate blood flow,heart enlargement, and abnormal heartbeats. The ECG does not always show the damage that is occurring, particularly if it involves the left side or back walls of the heart. In such cases,blood tests or other studies that can “image” the heart’sblood flow are used.

Blood tests

Blood tests are often used to check for “biochemicalmarkers” that are released into the blood within the first few hours after heart damage occurs.In some cases, some of these blood tests can identify “highrisk” conditions in which a heartattack may be imminent.

Nuclear scan

This is sometimes used to show damaged areas of the heart and reveal problems with its pumping action, which is particularly helpful in cases where the ECG does not detect the damage. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein,usually in the arm. A scanning camera positioned over the heart records the nuclear material, which is delivered by the coronary arteries and either taken up by the heart muscle(healthy areas)or not taken up (damaged areas). In particular cases, the camera can also evaluate how the heart muscle as a unit pumps the blood.This test can be done during both rest and exercise.

Coronaryangiography (or arteriography)

This test is used to take detailed pictures of the coronary arteries. A fine tube(catheter) is threaded through an artery of an arm or leg up into the heart.A fluid that shows up on x-ray is then injected,and the heart and blood vessels are filmed as the heart pumps.The picture is called an angiogram or arteriogram. It can show problems such as a blockage caused by atherosclerosis.

Common Heart Attack Misdiagnoses

A doctor’s failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of a heart attack may occur if the symptoms are confused with another health condition. In our experience we have seen doctors misdiagnose a heart attack as:

*Heart Burn

*Anxiety Attack




Another reason why doctors fail to properly diagnose patients with heart attacks is they fail to consider heart attacks in younger patients and overlook how common it is for women to suffer from heart attacks. It is a common misconception that heart attacks in women are rare. However, heart disease actually kills five times more women than breast cancer. Additionally, doctors are likely to misdiagnose a woman’s heart attack as a gastrointestinal condition because women typically suffer symptoms of nausea, while men usually have chest pain.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

The definition of medical malpractice is an act or omission by a health care provider that deviates from what is the accepted standards of practice in the medical community. This act or omission then causes injury to the patient. Medical malpractice is basically professional negligence by a health care professional that leads to an injury or complications on the part of the patient. In a medical malpractice suit there is the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff is the patient or the family of the patient while the defendant is the health care provider. For a case to meet the medical malpractice definition the plaintiff must be able to prove their case. Some of the things that the plaintiff will need to prove include:

*A duty was owed by the hospital or health care provider.

*The duty was not acted upon. In short, the provider failed to provide the standard of care.

*The breach of duty caused an injury to the patient

*Losses. The plaintiff must be able to prove that there were damages, otherwise a medical malpractice suit is not applicable even if the provider was negligent.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries, or even death, as a result of being misdiagnosed by a doctor, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at 516.358.6900 or