Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, accounting for a quarter of all deaths. However, despite how common heart attacks are, they are frequently misdiagnosed. If the wrong diagnosis is made due to the lack of appropriate testing, serious injury and death can result. If you or a loved one had a heart attack that was misdiagnosed, the Connecticut heart attack misdiagnosis lawyers at Berkowitz Hanna can help you decide if legal action is right for you.
Heart attacks are missed in about 2% of patients seeking help in U.S. emergency rooms, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. That may seem like a low number, but the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 735,000 Americans have heart attacks every year, meaning that about 14,700 of those are misdiagnosed. One of those people may have been you or a family member.
The medical error of a misdiagnosis can take a few different forms, including a complete failure to diagnose, the wrong diagnosis (such as the diagnosis of acid reflux instead of a heart attack), or a delayed diagnosis.
A misdiagnosis can have many causes. Not all heart attacks present classic symptoms in people, and a doctor might attribute symptoms to less serious conditions when they treat someone not normally considered at high-risk for a heart attack. Sometimes symptoms can be mistaken for another illness, especially if the appropriate tests are not completed or the test results are misinterpreted. These may seem like honest mistakes – and they may not be intentional – but that does not lessen the fact that misdiagnosis can have serious, fatal consequences.
Some common mistakes that lead to heart attack misdiagnoses include:
Inaccurate reading of an Electrocardiogram (ECG, a medical device that makes a graph record of the heart’s electrical activity)
Failure to perform appropriate tests
Failure to properly assess a patient’s risk factors and medical history
Assumptions based on the person’s overall apparent health or youth, leading to the conclusion that the problem is not a heart attack
To protect yourself against having a heart attack misdiagnosed, you should learn more about heart attacks so that you can recognize them, and, if those symptoms appear, advocate for yourself or your loved one when getting treatment. You may be having a heart attack if you experience any of the following:
There are several ways for a heart attack to be diagnosed, including a complete patient history and a physical examination. More sophisticated tests such as an ECG (or EKG) can be used to see if there are any abnormalities caused by damage to the heart, and blood tests can be carried out to see if there are abnormal levels of certain enzymes in the bloodstream known to be associated with heart attacks.
If you or a loved one is showing the symptoms of a heart attack, get emergency treatment and request that appropriate tests be done so the correct diagnosis can be made. It is important to be involved in the diagnostic process, so even if you feel uncertain, trust your instincts, and do not be afraid to make sure you receive a thorough evaluation. Describe your symptoms in detail to as many healthcare workers as necessary – there may be poor or inaccurate communication among the staff, so it is best to make sure that everyone is on the same page. If you sense that a doctor or nurse does not fully understand your symptoms, ask that they repeat back to you their understanding of the situation. Additionally, it can be helpful to bring someone along with you to take notes of what you have been told and to write down questions that you may have, along with the answers you receive. Do not be afraid to ask questions. If you are told that you did not have a heart attack, ask why, and make sure that you understand.
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered because of a missed heart attack diagnosis, talk with one of our Connecticut heart attack misdiagnosis lawyers about your situation. If you speak directly to an insurance company adjuster or attorney, or to an attorney representing a doctor or hospital, you may unknowingly make statements that could severely limit your ability to obtain compensation for your injuries. It is of the utmost importance that you obtain competent medical malpractice legal representation if you or a loved one received a heart attack misdiagnosis.
At Berkowitz Hanna, our malpractice lawyers in CT can help you with our experienced, dedicated, and compassionate legal representation. We have represented many individuals, as well as families of individuals who have suffered from medical mistakes.