A missed heart attack diagnosis results in the highest medical malpractice payout among all medical malpractice cases. Every year in the United States, 7 million people go to hospital
complaining of chest pain or other symptoms that suggest they might be having a heart attack.
When patients enter a hospital or an emergency room, doctors have a professional obligation to perform all the routine tests that will either diagnose heart disease or rule it out. When profit is put ahead of patient care, doctors may not take the required time to do their jobs thoroughly and effectively.
The statistics surrounding heart disease and heart attacks in the U.S. are startling. A heart attack occurs about every 20 seconds, and deaths from heart attacks occur approximately once a minute. Almost 14 million Americans have a history of heart attack or angina (chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle does not get enough blood).
Warning signs of a heart attack include:
• Shortness of breath, often occurring at the same time as chest pain but can occur before chest pain, also
• Chest discomfort/pain (squeezing, pressure, or fullness)
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach)
• Cold sweat, nausea, light-headedness
More than 233,000 women die each year from heart disease; yet, most women do not experience chest pain when having a heart attack. Instead, they frequently experience nausea and vomiting, which often leads doctors to misdiagnose a woman’s heart attack as a gastro-intestinal problem. According to recent studies, women waited an average of almost 25 minutes longer than men for clot-buster treatments, which can stop a heart attack. Misdiagnosing a heart attack or a heart condition puts the patient, female or male, at risk for stroke, paralysis and death.
Acute cardiac ischemia (ACI) is a deficiency in the blood supply to the heart muscle. ACI includes heart attack and unstable angina; these conditions are among the most difficult to diagnose for even experienced physicians. Because these conditions go undiagnosed, patients are often discharged from the hospital when they should be admitted for further testing and treatment. Patients not admitted to the hospital are twice as likely to die than patients properly diagnosed, admitted and treated.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the nation, and failure to diagnose a heart attack is the number one medical malpractice mistake in our country. Being aware of the warning signs and what diagnostic options should be made available to you in the hospital may just help save your life.