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.
Heart attack victims might have a cause of action for medical malpractice if their condition was worsened due to misdiagnosis. For help understanding your legal rights, talk to a knowledgeable misdiagnosis lawyer at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., today. Our attorneys will answer your questions about missed or delayed diagnosis and will discuss your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation.
How Does a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Occur?
Heart attack misdiagnosis can occur when physicians:
- Incorrectly diagnose another condition, such as heartburn instead of a heart attack
- Fail to recognize symptoms of a heart attack (women, for instance, often present with atypical heart attack symptoms, while young victims do not fit the typical demographic profile of most victims)
- Fail to order necessary tests, such as a coronary angiography for heart attacks
- 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. A lawyer can help you have your medical records reviewed by an experienced outside expert to determine whether your condition was not diagnosed correctly due to physician error.
Heart attacks are commonly misdiagnosed by physicians as other conditions, including:
- Acid reflux
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Panic attacks or anxiety
If you believe your doctor or another healthcare professional made a heart attack misdiagnosis error, please contact our medical malpractice lawyers now to learn how we can help.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Some of the most common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Pain in the neck, jaw, shoulder, back, or stomach
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Vomiting or nausea
What Types of Damages Result?
If a heart attack victim does not receive prompt medical attention from a physician, he or she could suffer permanent damage or could die as a result. If the patient survives but suffers permanent damage to the heart, the patient could suffer lifelong pain or become permanently disabled.
The consequences of heart attack misdiagnoses can 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)
Individuals who have suffered a heart attack could find that the muscles of the heart are significantly weakened and are unable to pump blood throughout the body effectively. Many are unable to engage in strenuous activity and might find themselves unable to return to work or enjoy the activities they once did. Many who have experienced a heart attack also live in fear of further complications that might arise in the future.
Compensation for Your Losses
If your healthcare provider failed to make a timely and accurate diagnosis and you suffered severe injuries as a result, you have the right to seek compensation. You could be eligible to recover damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Ongoing medical care and support
- Lost wages from time missed from work
- Loss of future income (if disabled)
- Pain, suffering, and emotional anguish
If your loved one died as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for:
- Final medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship, love, and comfort (also known as loss of consortium)
Steps for Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Compensation
To seek compensation for the missed or delayed diagnosis of a heart attack, 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.
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.
Who Is Responsible for a Misdiagnosis of a 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.
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
Our Chicago Lawyers Can Review Your Heart Attack 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 demand the compensation you deserve for your missed or delayed diagnosis and the harm it caused. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We can review the specific details of your case, answer your questions, and go over all your options.