Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosed Heart Attack


Permanent Heart Damage or Death from a Misdiagnosed Heart Attack

Damage from heart attacks may be minimized by timely treatment.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Should my Doctor have tested for a Heart Attack?

A misdiagnosed heart attack or a failure to diagnose a heart attack timely can cause irreparable damage.  A heart attack’s technical name is an acute myocardial infarction.  The term simply means death of cardiac muscle due to a blockage or ischemia.  Medical care for heart attacks has advanced significantly.  The death rates from heart attacks have dropped below 10 percent in the United States.  The improved care for heart attacks is dependent on the heart attack being timely diagnosed.

The diagnosis of a heart attack starts with identifying the symptoms.  The most common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest pain with or without radiating pain to the jaw, arms, neck, back or the area just below the chest muscles towards the abdomen.
  • The chest pain is often described as heartburn, indigestion, crushing, constricting or fullness.
  • The person may have multiple symptoms including nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, fainting, light headedness, vomiting or a loss of color.

A doctor evaluating a patient with these complaints should look for further signs of a heart attack such as:

  • Cool and clammy hands or feet.
  • Pale or bluish skin (Cyanotic).
  • Bulging or distended jugular vein.
  • Abnormal breath sounds while listening to the lungs (bibasilar rales or crackles).
  • Cognitive Disorientation.
  • Weak or irregular pulse
  • Low-grade fever
  • A rapid heart rate with high blood pressure or a slow heart rate with low blood pressure
  • Abnormal sounds when listening to the heart.

If a patient has presented with complaints consistent with a heart attack and after the doctor has looked for the signs of a heart attack then diagnostic testing should be performed.  The failure to diagnose timely and misdiagnosis lawyers at Patterson Law offer free consultations to review your potential claim for a misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosis of a heart attack.

Call 301-383-1522 for a free misdiagnosed heart attack consultation with a Top 100 Maryland Super Lawyer and a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney.

Simple Tests Can Confirm a Heart Attack

Tests should be performed before discharging a potential heart attack patient

Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG) should be conducted within 10 minutes of a suspected heart attack victim’s arrival at a hospital.  This is an effective method of avoiding a misdiagnosed heart attack.  Blood should also be drawn to look for biomarkers from a heart attack.  There are certain biomarkers that may be found in the blood that elevate with the death of heart tissue.  These biomarkers may also be found in health patients that perhaps recently worked out causing some muscular tissue to die.

There are biomarkers that are more specific to a heart attack that should also be tested for at the same time.  A wider blood test should also be performed to include a complete blood count, blood glucose, blood urea nitrogen and serum creatine and a lipid profile.  Potassium and magnesium levels should also be checked.  Diagnosing a heart attack based on blood tests may require repeated blood tests.  The biomarkers from a heart attack may not reach levels likely to trigger a finding for 3 or more hours after the onset of pain.  A CT angiography may also be utilized to diagnose a heart attack.

If you are concerned that doctors failed to perform the diagnostic tests necessary to timely diagnose your heart attack or the heart attack of a loved one, please call the misdiagnosed heart attack lawyers at Patterson Law for a free consultation.  A Top 100 Maryland Super Lawyer and Multi-Million Dollar Advocate Forum member is available to discuss your case.

Standards of care and differential diagnosis protocols are used to make sure that less likely but potentially deadly medical conditions are diagnosed.

Heart Attack Symptoms are similar to other medical conditions

For some patients it is tempting to attribute serious cardiac symptoms to other medical conditions

A misdiagnosed heart attack usually occurs because a doctor incorrectly attributes the signs and symptoms that are consistent with a heart attack to a more likely health condition that can generate the same signs and symptoms.  An emergency room doctor must consider whether a patient with signs and symptoms that are consistent with a heart attack may have one of the following medical conditions:

  • Peptic ulcer
  • Pericarditis
  • Angina
  • Reflux disease
  • Chest wall pain
  • Panic attacks
  • Pancreatic pain
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Lung injury

Doctors must resist the temptation to jump to the most obvious diagnosis without eliminating a potentially fatal cardiac condition as the cause.  Image you are a young doctor and a 35 year old slender and athletic man comes in with chest pain, shortness of breath, a rapid heart rate, dizziness and a loss of consciousness during a car accident.  The patient is visibly distraught wanting to know if his three year old son was hurt in the accident.  It may be tempting for the doctor to avoid testing for a heart attack because his complaints could all be attributed to the car accident.  The doctor may attribute the chest pain to the patient striking his chest on the steering wheel, dizziness from hitting his head, a rapid heart rate and shortness of breath due to a panic attack about the car accident and his child.

The doctor may have written off a cardiac condition as perhaps being the cause of the driver getting into the accident.  The relative youth of the patient, his fit appearance and a logical medical explanation for the symptoms may tempt a doctor to discount a heart attack as the cause.  What if the patient is suffering from a heart attack?  Without the correct diagnosis the patient would be discharged with instructions to follow up with an orthopedist instead of receiving potentially life-saving interventional treatment.

If you or a loved one suffered a permanent injuries due to a failure to diagnose a cardiac condition, call a six time Top 100 Maryland Super Lawyer for a free consultation to evaluate whether the misdiagnosis harmed you or a loved one.

When it became time to present my case he ensured I was kept abreast to all information and I was completely prepared to proceed. George won my case because he is an awesome and knowledgeable lawyer, who genuinely cares.

Jennifer

A client of attorney George Patterson.

Women with heart attacks are misdiagnosed more frequently than men.  This is probably because doctors are less likely to suspect a cardiac condition as the most likely diagnosis for a female patient as opposed to a male patient.  Following established medical standards of care should minimize this gap.

George Patterson, Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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Bowie Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer

George Patterson is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.   He was first certified in 2009 and recertified in 2014.

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If you or a loved one suffered a misdiagnosed heart attack or believe that a doctor failed to timely diagnose a heart attack contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Patterson Law and ask for lawyer George Patterson to arrange for a free misdiagnosed heart attack consultation.

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