Misdiagnosis of Heart Attacks in Virginia is a Cause of Lawsuits

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States. However, many are preventable with timely diagnosis and treatment. Sadly, thousands of heart attacks are missed by medical professionals or improperly diagnosed or left too late. Misdiagnosis of heart attacks is a cause of lawsuits in Virginia.

About 610,000 people die of heart attacks every year in the United States, equating to a quarter of all deaths, states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women. Every year about 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack.

In some cases, patients die or are left disabled because of the failure of doctors or nurses to recognize the signs of a heart attack and to take action promptly.  Our Virginia medical malpractice lawyers can file personal injury or wrongful death suits when this happens.

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is called a myocardial infarction in medical circles.  It occurs when the normal blood flow into a section of the heart is suddenly disrupted or blocked. The interruption of the blood coming into the heart deprives the organ of oxygen. If medical professionals fail to restore the blood flow as soon as possible, the heart muscle will stop functioning and cause death.

Not all heart attacks are survivable. However, the failure to diagnose a heart attack or a delay is a factor in about 10,000 cases a year. Primary care doctors or E.R. doctors may fail to make a diagnosis that would save the patient’s life.

Contrary to the common belief, it’s not always obvious when people are having a heart attack. Many heart attacks are subtle. Rather than extreme chest pain, the patient suffers diverse symptoms that can be confused with something else. Heart attacks are missed for the following reasons.

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What Are the Reasons for the Failure to Treat Heart Attacks in Virginia?

1. Incorrect diagnosis

The symptoms of a more minor heart attack often mimic other health conditions like heartburn, acid reflux, or even anxiety attacks. A medical professional may not realize you are having a heart attack.

2. Few Symptoms

Sometimes heart attacks have minimal symptoms. On occasions, people who suffered a heart attack may report nothing more serious than nausea, unusual fatigue or shakiness. This can trick medical professionals.

3. Readings are normal

Heart attacks are measured with electrocardiograms (EKGs). Although the equipment is usually reliable it can give inaccurate readings. EKGs can show relatively normal readings post-heart attack. Although they are not 100% accurate, doctors lean heavily on them when they decide if a cardiac arrest occurred.

4. Patient stereotypes

Older men who are overweight with a history of hypertension, high cholesterol or past heart disease are more likely to suffer a heart attack. They fit the stereotypical heart attack victim. Unfortunately, medical professionals sometimes miss the signs of a cardiac arrest in people outside this demographic profile. Doctors may overlook certain demographics like younger women with fatal results.

Statistics show women die of heart attacks in as large numbers as men. Heart attacks killed 299,578 women in 2017, accounting for 1 in 5 female deaths.

Who is Responsible for Misdiagnosis of Heart Attacks in Virginia?

A wide range of medical professionals can be sued for medical malpractice over the misdiagnosis of heart attacks in Virginia or delays that lead to a patient’s death or other serious complications. They include:

  • Emergency room doctors
  • Consulting physicians
  • Triage nurses
  • Interns and medical students
  • Cardiologists and other specialists
  • Hospitals and other medical facilities

Some research suggests more heart attacks are missed or misdiagnosed in rural hospitals or places with fewer cardiac arrests due to the relative inexperience of staff.  

Talk to a Lawyer over Misdiagnosis of Heart Attacks in Virginia

When medical professionals fail to diagnose heart attacks in a timely manner a patient can die or be left with a permanent disability. Misdiagnosis of a heart attack may also end in the death of a patient. At the Smith Law Center, we file lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, and nurses across the country.  If you suspect an irregularity in the treatment of your loved one, please talk to us. We offer free consultations. See our medical malpractice results or call us at (757) 695-9425.

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