Failure To Diagnose A Heart Attack Is Medical Malpractice

Heart Attack Misdiagnosis

When a person suffers a heart attack, it is often due to cardiovascular disease.  This is when the blockage of the coronary artery thickens the vessel that brings oxygen to the heart, and a dangerous clot is formed.  If the heart is deprived of oxygen, it is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body, and a heart attack results.  During the heart attack itself, the cells of the heart begin to die, and proteins are released into the blood.  In order to prevent a heart attack, heart disease needs to be diagnosed in a timely manner.

Common signs of a cardiovascular problem include:

  • Chest pains
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive weight
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Numbness in arms
  • Unexplained fatigue

It is easy to diagnose these symptoms during a normal physical that measures blood pressure and heartbeat.  Obtaining the medical history of a patient can also help to make a proper assessment, which can help indicate a propensity for heart disease.

The heart is the body’s most important pump.  It is also the largest conductor.  An electrocardiogram can graphically chart the heart’s electrical activity, and show abnormalities caused by damage.  Irregular levels of proteins and enzymes in the bloodstream can also be detected by blood tests.  These tests are necessary to properly confirm or rule out early stages of heart disease.

There are many tests that can be used to diagnose heart attack.  These tests include:

  • Angiography (where dye is injected into the arteries)
  • Chest X-rays
  • CT Scans
  • Exercise stress tests
  • Injection of clot-dissolving agents
  • Insertion of catheter in blood vessels
  • Prescription anticoagulants
  • Repeating exams so that changes can be detected over time
  • Serum tests

Both non-invasive and surgical procedures are very important to diagnose and treat heart disease.  If a medical professional fails to perform these tests and identify heart disease, he or she has violated the doctor’s duty of care to the patient, and serious injury could result.  It is common for misdiagnosis to occur when the patient is young otherwise seems to be at low-risk.  Patients who go undiagnosed may end up in urgent or intensive care units.  These patients may have a claim for medical malpractice that can be brought against the liable parties.