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Misdiagnosis of Heart Attack / Stroke

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A heart attack typically must be treated within one hour of the onset of symptoms to minimize muscle death and scarring, and misdiagnosis is often fatal. Unfortunately, approximately 11,000 heart attacks are misdiagnosed each year.

Time is also of the essence for treating stroke victims. Strokes must be treated within the first three hours of symptom onset to reduce permanent impairment. Within 48 to 72 hours from the onset of symptoms, a stroke victim’s outcome can no longer be improved by medical intervention.

Victims misdiagnosed with stroke or heart attack may have a cause of action for medical malpractice. For help understanding your rights, Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., offers free consultations. Our attorneys will answer questions about missed or delayed diagnoses cases, including the following:

Who is Responsible for a Misdiagnosis of Stroke or Heart Attack?

A recent study identified missed and delayed diagnosis as the leading cause of malpractice claims against primary care physicians. Between 26 and 63 percent of claims against primary care doctors arose from diagnostic problems. Heart attacks were one of the top two commonly missed diagnoses for adults.

Primary care physicians can also misdiagnose symptoms of a stroke. Unfortunately, this is because stroke symptoms are often confused with migraines by general practitioners.

Strokes and heart attacks may also be misdiagnosed by:

  • Emergency room doctors
  • Triage and/or ER nurses
  • Medical student interns
  • Consulting cardiologists
  • Staff or attending doctors
  • Urgent care center physicians
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics
  • Lab technicians.

How Does Stroke or Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Occur?

It is important to recognize when your physician has done something wrong so you can take legal action. Stroke or heart attack misdiagnosis can occur when physicians:

  • Incorrectly diagnose another condition, such as heartburn instead of a heart attack or seizures or vertigo instead of a stroke
  • Fail to recognize symptoms of heart attack or stroke (women, for instance, often present with atypical heart attack symptoms, while young stroke victims do not fit the typical demographic profile of a stroke victim)
  • Fail to order necessary tests, such as a coronary angiography for heart attacks or a computed tomography arteriogram and magnetic resonance arteriogram for potential stroke victims
  • Misread an EKG, MRI, carotid ultrasound, blood test or other lab result
  • Fail to follow up on lab tests.

Whenever a physician fails to recognize symptoms, perform appropriate testing or correctly act upon medical tests, you may have a malpractice claim. You should have your medical records reviewed by an experienced outside expert to determine if your condition was not diagnosed correctly due to physician error.

What Types of Damages Result?

The consequences of stroke or heart attack misdiagnoses can be severe. They include:

  • Muscle death and scarring of the heart
  • Permanent brain damage causing significant impairment
  • Readmission (almost three-quarters of patients who are initially misdiagnosed end up being readmitted to the hospital after the initial treatment is received)
  • Death.

Steps for Stroke Misdiagnosis Compensation

To obtain compensation for the missed or delayed diagnosis of a heart attack or stroke in your case, you can file a civil lawsuit and/or settle your malpractice claim out of court.

A lawsuit generally must be filed within two years of the malpractice incident. You are required to have an affidavit from a medical professional attesting that your claim has merit in order to file a claim. Your attorney will assist in finding an expert. This expert may also need to testify on your behalf in court.

Stroke and heart attack misdiagnosis cases can be challenging. Doctors commonly argue that their diagnostic error made no difference in your outcome. These cases can come down to a battle of the experts. You will need an expert to testify specifically about how you were harmed due to your doctor’s misdiagnosis.

A malpractice insurance carrier typically will offer a settlement if it believes its policyholder will be found at fault. Settlement agreements can be reached up until the time the jury has delivered a verdict. You should settle only if you are confident that the compensation is sufficient.

In cases where the heart attack or stroke misdiagnosis has resulted in death, surviving family members may also pursue a settlement or wrongful death litigation.

Our Chicago Lawyers Can Review Your Heart Attack / Stroke Misdiagnosis Case

You should be compensated for all losses caused by the misdiagnosis of your condition. At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we are here to help you get the compensation you deserve for your missed or delayed diagnosis. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Chicago and Illinois.

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