Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women. A heart attack requires a timely and accurate diagnosis and prompt medical intervention to decrease complications.
Delayed diagnosis or failure to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack can result in permanent disability or death. Medical professionals are trained to ask a series of questions and perform tests to determine the likelihood of a heart attack.
Misdiagnosis of heart attacks due to medical staff negligence can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, especially when patients suffer permanent damage.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are legal advocates for families injured through medical negligence. We provide immediate legal advice and representation to ensure our clients receive the maximum compensation they deserve.
Call our Chicago heart attack misdiagnosis lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.
What Are Heart Attacks?
A heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction, occurs when the heart muscle cannot get oxygen. Heart attacks occur when the arteries that carry blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked.
Every heart attack is different. Some cause discomfort, pain, and dizziness instantly, while others may occur slowly and gradually over time. The most common complaint during a heart attack is chest pain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 659,000 people in the United States die yearly from heart disease. Heart disease accounts for death in one in every four people, making it the leading cause of death.
Common Symptoms of a Heart Attack Including Chest Pain
The potential for heart attack should never be taken lightly by healthcare professionals. The most common complaint of a patient suffering from heart-related pain is chest pain, but that is not the only factor. Delayed diagnosis can lead to permanent disability, pain, suffering, or death.
To diagnose heart disease and heart attacks, doctors check patient symptoms, perform tests, and talk with the patient. Some patients may present with acute, sudden pain, while others may show mild, gradual discomfort.
Common signs of a heart attack include:
- Chest/rib pain or discomfort attributed to anxiety or stress
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
When you feel these symptoms, seek immediate medical help at your local hospital emergency room to be properly diagnosed. They will perform necessary tests to diagnose a heart attack and provide quick treatment to prevent heart muscle damage.
The emergency room is the best place to be assessed and receive a prompt diagnosis, which can save lives.
Risk Factors for Heart Attack Patients
Physicians should look at your medical records to learn about any potential risk factors or medical history that puts you at a higher risk of a heart attack. Some primary care doctors overlook diagnosing heart attacks in younger patients even if they present the same symptoms as older patients due only to their younger age.
Gender bias is also a common problem. Younger women with heart problems are frequently misdiagnosed at a rate significantly higher than younger men. The emergency room doctor will often make the first accurate diagnosis of many younger women and men when identifying medical conditions in the emergency room.
Having a heart attack misdiagnosed could be fatal or lead to permanent injury. Common risk factors of coronary heart disease and heart attack diagnosis include:
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can cause excessive strain on the heart as blood pumps throughout the body, leading to cardiac arrest.
Cholesterol is the fatty substance in the blood. When heart attack patients have high cholesterol levels, it can cause buildup on the walls of their blood vessels. It increases the risk of blockage and causes the body to work harder to pump blood to the heart.
Carrying extra weight can cause a strain on your heart, making the muscles work harder to pump blood and oxygenate the heart. It can also lead to high blood pressure due to restricted blood flow. You can prevent these issues by maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in strenuous activity daily.
Family History of Heart Disease
During a proper diagnosis, doctors will look at a patient’s medical records to understand their family history of heart disease. The presence of previous heart attacks or coronary artery disease in the family can make a patient more susceptible to acute myocardial infarction.
A healthy lifestyle, diet, and nutrition are critical in preventing myocardial infarction. High stress, an unhealthy diet, and smoking can cause you to be more susceptible to the dangers of heart disease.
Not all heart attack symptoms are apparent. The patient’s presentation at a doctor’s office or emergency room might be overlooked, where doctors diagnose acid reflux or pain in the shoulder blades as a different medical condition.
Atypical Symptoms That May Lead to Heart Attack Misdiagnosis
Patients may express more than just chest pain symptoms to indicate myocardial infarction pain. Most women will identify heart attack symptoms differently than men. Because of these atypical symptoms, they are more likely to receive a heart attack misdiagnosis. This misdiagnosis can result in permanent damage or even death.
Female patients are the most commonly misdiagnosed for heart conditions and missed heart attacks. According to the American College of Cardiology, “heart disease is the leading killer of women, responsible for one in every four female deaths.”
A woman experiencing a heart attack may complain of:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Neck or back pain
- Jaw pain or feeling their arms are heavy
- Acid reflux
- Pain in the shoulder blades
Because female patients present differently than men, doctors often diagnose women with other issues, including psychiatric illness, indigestion, or musculoskeletal problems. Doctors must prevent misdiagnosis of women by looking more expansively at their entire history and symptom report.
Women are not the only demographic with a high risk of heart attack misdiagnosis. According to statistics, African American heart attack victims are on average ten years younger than white patients.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, African Americans develop more health conditions at younger ages than other non-Hispanic ethnicities and are less likely to receive the correct medical care in a timely fashion.
Elderly patients may also present with atypical symptoms that make them victims of missed diagnosis.
When Does Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Occur?
Failure to recognize common signs can occur. When hospital physicians fail to diagnose or present a delayed diagnosis, they put the patient’s life at risk.
A misdiagnosis may occur when the doctor:
- Fails to recognize symptoms as a heart attack, as in women presenting atypically
- Fails to order necessary tests, such as EKGs or blood tests
- Misreads test results
- Fails to follow up on lab test results
When these issues occur, a physician or emergency department may be liable for medical malpractice that has resulted in harm, lifelong pain, or permanent damage to a patient.
Who Is Liable for My Heart Attack Misdiagnosis?
Patients with a heart attack due to medical negligence can suffer from permanent issues, such as heart failure, heart muscle damage, stroke, or other severe disorders. This missed diagnosis from a physician can even take the patient’s life.
A misdiagnosed heart attack in both men and women can be tried as a medical malpractice lawsuit that compensates you for your pain, suffering, and losses.
There are a few medical professionals that could have performed medical negligence in your case, such as:
- Emergency room doctors
- Triage nurses
- Consulting physician
- Interns or medical students
It is also possible to look at the hospital for any liability. Many emergency rooms may be unequipped to handle the case. These doctors may have fewer resources and diagnostic tools to handle heart attack situations, making them responsible for any negligence.
Hire a Chicago heart Attack Misdiagnosis Lawyer to Resolve Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Are you a heart attack victim of medical malpractice? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured victims harmed through another’s negligence.
Call us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
We accept all personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures you pay nothing until we have resolved your heart attack misdiagnosis case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.