Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
An acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack requires prompt diagnosis and treatment to reduce the chances of serious complications or death.
In the United States, around 1.5 million heart attacks occur annually, and about 11,000 of these are not properly diagnosed and result in unnecessary fatalities. In some cases, medical negligence may be responsible for delayed or misdiagnoses of a heart attack. In this post, Chicago medical malpractice lawyer will discuss heart attack delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis in detail.
Who is responsible for a heart attack delayed diagnosis or missed diagnosis?
When a patient comes to ER, a medical professional could make a negligent mistake and fail to diagnose a heart attack in a timely manner. Medical professionals who could make these errors include:
- Consulting physicians
- Emergency room physicians
- Consulting cardiologists
- Triage nurses
- Medical students and interns
Some studies have shown that some low volume emergency rooms have a higher rate of heart attack misdiagnosis compared to those that handle many patients. The reason cold be that smaller emergency rooms have less experience and fewer resources to make a correct diagnosis.
It is important to note that medical professionals in ER are not the only ones who can make errors. Heath care providers in other settings can also make diagnosis errors:
- General practitioners
- Physician assistants
- Family doctors
- Doctors in urgent care centers
- Lab technicians and other diagnostic professionals.
Who is more likely to be misdiagnosed?
Studies have shown that when it comes to heart attacks, females are more likely to be misdiagnosed compared to men. This is often due to the atypical nature of symptoms that female patients report. Some of these atypical symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping
- Back pain
- Pain that does not radiate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heaviness of arms
- Feeling flushed
- Epigastric burning
These symptoms are different from the ones that men experience, which include pain the shoulder, chest, jaw, in between shoulder blades and neck, and headache.
Female patients are often misdiagnosed with emotional or psychiatric problems, musculoskeletal problems, indigestion or anxiety. So, they are prescribed painkillers or antianxiety drugs instead of life-saving treatments such as aspirin, thrombolytic agents, and others.
Elderly patients are also at a higher risk of delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis because they often present atypical symptoms and have other chronic conditions.
Consequences of heart attack misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
Failure to make an accurate and timely diagnosis of a heart attack can have devastating consequences for the patient. Delayed or missed heart attack diagnoses are often associated with poor medical outcomes including death. Fatality risk doubles if a heart attack is not diagnosed accurately.
Those who survive a delayed diagnosis or an undiagnosed heart attack frequently develop more complications compared to those who receive a correct diagnosis.
Are you a victim of heart attack misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis? Contact a qualified Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.