FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE HEART ATTACK LAWYERS
For over 40 years The Fitzgerald Law Firms have handled hundreds of failure to diagnose / medical malpractice cases and has achieved many substantial verdicts and settlements, including a–the largest medical malpractice verdict in the United States in 2002 (Lawyers Weekly).
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HEART ATTACKS DEFINED
Acute myocardial infarction, heart attack, is an injury to the heart muscle which is the result of a prolonged lack of oxygenated blood due to the loss of blood supply. Lack of blood supply results in the death of heart cells and the damaged heart muscle loses its ability to contract. Three things can cause an interruption to the blood flow: a blood clot (thrombus), atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque), and coronary artery spasm.
FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE HEART ATTACK AND ACUTE CARDIAC ISCHEMIA
Approximately 26,000 patients with acute cardiac ischemia are mistakenly discharged from ERs each year, despite the abundance of knowledge available about acute cardiac ischemia, a deficiency in blood supply to the heart muscle. Acute cardiac ischemia includes heart attack and unstable angina pectoris that can lead to heart attack. Failure to diagnose heart attack may lead to subsequent discharge of patients with acute cardiac ischemia, who should have been admitted. Patients who are mistakenly not admitted to the hospital have nearly twice the risk of dying as patients who are properly diagnosed and admitted.
FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE HEART ATTACK AND DISCRIMINATION
Some cases of failure to diagnose heart attack fall into a form of discrimination, according to Dr. Harry P. Selker, chief of the Division of Clinical Care Research at the New England Medical Center. Failure to diagnose and hospitalize is:
- Twice as likely if the patient is not white
- Seven times more likely if the patient is a woman under 55 years of age
- Three times more likely if the patient’s primary symptom is shortness of breath (rather than chest pain)
- Three times more likely if the patient’s EKG was normal
TESTS TO AVOID FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE HEART ATTACK
Successful restoration of the blood supply usually depends on timely diagnosis – the first two hours after a heart attack are pivotal to staying alive with maximum recovery. The goal is to stop the progression of the heart attack, reduce the demands on the heart to facilitate healing, and prevent complications.
The following tests may be done to assess a heart attack and the extent of heart damage: electrocardiogram(EKG a graphic tracing of the variations in electrical potential caused by the excitation of the heart muscle and detected at the body surface), echocardiography (uses ultrasound to make images of the heart chambers, valves and surrounding structures), coronary angiography (access the coronary circulation and blood filled chambers of the heart using a catheter), and nuclear ventriculography (process of making an X-ray photograph of a ventricle of the heart after injecting a contrast medium).
The law limits the amount of time after a patient incurs an injury to file suit. Although not every failure to diagnose heart attack is negligence, consulting with an experienced lawyer is in your best interests. We will take steps to preserve your legal rights and determine your options.