Heart attack is one of the most common emergency conditions for which people seek medical care. Unfortunately, not all heart attacks are diagnosed correctly and in a timely manner. Misdiagnosis may be related to a number of factors. In some cases, a doctor may be negligent in his or her misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose the heart attack. If the failure to diagnose causes significant harm, the patient may pursue a medical malpractice claim for damages.
Why might a doctor misdiagnose or fail to diagnose a heart attack?
Failure to recognize symptoms could lead to a failure to diagnose the patient appropriately. Most recognize that chest pain, discomfort and tightness may indicate a heart attack. Many are aware that pain in the arm can be a symptom as well, but other symptoms might be pain in the neck or jaw, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.
Ignoring a patient’s symptoms, especially chest pain and tightness or other common symptoms, could lead the doctor to miss a diagnosis and may constitute medical negligence.
Some doctors may fail to order proper testing to determine if the patient is actually having a heart attack. A doctor might believe a patient is suffering from heartburn or other relatively benign conditions, leading him or her to provide incorrect diagnosis and ineffective treatment.
Is a doctor liable for failing to diagnose my heart attack?
Whether a doctor is liable for damages in misdiagnosing a heart attack depends on how the doctor responded to the patient’s complaints. If the doctor ran all the right tests and evaluated the patient just as other reasonable physicians would have evaluated the patient but still did not diagnose the heart attack, then the doctor may not be liable.
But if the doctor was negligent in failing to order tests or dismissed the patient’s chest tightness and nausea without due diligence, he or she may, in fact, be liable for damages. Of course, it’s important to note that emergency room doctors and nurses are provided more leeway regarding the expected standard of care. The emergency room requires making quick decisions, and doctors may not have the opportunity to test and evaluate the patient’s condition thoroughly.
In some cases, other parties may be liable in a medical malpractice case. The hospital may be liable in addition to the doctor. This might be the case if the hospital knowingly allowed an incompetent, unqualified doctor to practice at the hospital. A medical malpractice claim must provide expert testimony from a doctor in the same field. The testimony must state that the doctor’s actions did not follow the standard of care expected of other physicians. Your attorney can help set up expert testimony with a qualified doctor.
Seek Help from a Medical Malpractice Attorney
At Ryan, LLP we help patients and their families who have suffered death or further complications or damages resulting from failure to diagnose a heart attack. Call today at 877-864-9495 to schedule a free consultation or use our online contact form to set up a consultation.