Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis of a Heart Attack
Oftentimes, people go to the emergency room, URGI Care centers (Med Express), or their family doctor complaining of symptoms that may be caused by an impending heart attack. Typical symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the arm or below the breast bone. Sometimes the pain can radiate to the back, jaw, throat, as well. Other symptoms can include sweating (diaphoresis), nausea, vomiting, dizziness, indigestion (may feel like heartburn), or rapid or irregular heartbeats.
Other important factors to evaluate are the duration that the symptoms last and whether or not the symptoms are relieved by rest or oral medications, such as nitroglycerin. Additional symptoms may start as mild discomfort, but progresses to additional pain. Some people may have a heart attack without having any symptoms. This is known as a “silent” myocardial infarction (MI). It typically occurs more often in people with diabetes.
Physicians that examine people in the emergency room, urgent care center, or family doctor’s office should all be aware of these classic signs and symptoms of a heart attack. There are various tests that can be performed to evaluate whether a person has had a heart attack or whether there is severe underlying heart disease that needs to be addressed with medication or invasive procedures such as cardiac cauterization, balloon angioplasty, cardiac stenting, or even coronary bypass surgery.
A common test performed in these settings is an EKG (electrocardiogram). This test can tell whether a person has undergone an acute heart attack, or it may reveal a fixed heart defect, indicating a myocardial infarction has occurred in the past. This is a valuable test that can provide doctors with important information regarding the need for further treatment and referral to a cardiologist. Cardiologists can evaluate whether the best course of treatment is to treat the patient with oral medications or arrange for immediate cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography to evaluate the nature and extent of the underlying heart disease.
Identifying the signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease and impending heart attack can be done through the use of these types of tests. Like most conditions, if identified early, appropriate medical management or successful revascularization through the use of balloon angioplasty or coronary stenting or bypass surgery can save lives and allow patients to live a healthy and productive life.
Unfortunately, all too often, the signs and symptoms of impending heart attack are ignored or the test results are misinterpreted. When this occurs, tragically some patients suffer a premature and death that could have been prevented while others suffer debilitating injuries from preventable heart attacks and the consequences of treatable coronary artery disease.
If you or a loved one has suffered a heart attack after being evaluated in the emergency room, urgent care center, or by your family physician and you believe that signs and symptoms of your heart attack were ignored or dismissed by physicians or that the test results were misinterpreted, you should consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to evaluate whether or not a preventable medical mistake resulted in you or your loved one suffering needless injury.
At Matzus Law LLC, we have significant experience in investigating wrongful death or serious injury cases that result from the misdiagnose or delay in diagnosing and treating signs and symptoms of a heart attack or severe coronary artery disease. Contact us today!