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Failing To Diagnose A Heart Attack


It doesn’t take an expert to conclude that failing to diagnose a heart attack can have fatal consequences. Generally, cardiac episodes require prompt and effective treatment to keep from becoming life-threatening. If you or a oved one sought medical help upon experiencing cardiac symptoms, but were turned away, misdiagnosed, or given improper treatment, you may be entitled to compensation for any resulting harm. For instance, if a heart attack would have been avoided by a doctor administering timely and appropriate treatment, and your doctor was negligent in failing to treat you, then you can seek compensation for all expenses, pain, and suffering related to the heart attack.  Or, if your loved one died after being sent home from the hospital, you may be entitled to recover for your losses.

Why are Heart Attacks Misdiagnosed?

Heart attacks have a wide range of symptoms, which can make them complicated to diagnose. For instance, heart attacks can cause intense nausea, which can sometimes lead to misdiagnosis as indigestion. Heart attacks can also cause pain that can be dismissed as simply muscular or a sprain or strain. Women may be more likely to have heart attacks and cardiac episodes misdiagnosed as panic attacks or emotional problems. Elderly patients are at risk of delayed diagnosis, often due to the existence of several other medical conditions that can muddy the diagnosis process and take longer to determine with clarity what the root of the problem is. This time can be critical, and it is important that medical professionals listen carefully and react promptly to symptoms when they arise and conduct all necessary testing.

Heart attacks and cardiac episodes may present differently in individual patients; warning signs may be difficult for the untrained or undertrained to identify.  This, combined with a potentially short window in which to provide life-saving care, can lead to medical negligence.  The misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a cardiac episode is among one of the more serious errors a medical professional can make.

When is a Misdiagnosis Medical Negligence?

As noted above, heart attacks can present differently and in some circumstances, even a well meaning and reasonably cautious medical health professional can arrive at an incorrect diagnosis without actually deviating from the standard of care owed to the patient. This means that not all misdiagnoses amount to medical malpractice. In order to be medical malpractice, a doctor or health care provider must have made a misdiagnosis that other similarly situated doctors would not have made. In other words, if it was a mistake that any doctor would have made, and the conclusion reached was reasonable, even though incorrect, then it is not medical negligence. On the other hand, if the mistake made by a doctor would not likely have been made by another similarly situated doctor, then that points firmly to medical malpractice.

Talk to a Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or a loved one have suffered a heart attack or serious injury as a result of a doctor or health care professional’s misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or failure to treat, the experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorneys at Berman | Sobin | Gross LLP are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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