Misdiagnosis - Heart Attack
Heart Attack Misdiagnosis - Sacramento, CA Medical Malpractice Attorney
Jerry was a hard working construction worker, married and the father of three children. One day at work, he began experiencing severe pain in his upper abdomen and lower chest, with pain radiating in his left arm, shoulder and back. The pain was so severe that he left work immediately and headed to see a doctor at the nearest urgent care center.
The treating physician evaluated Jerry and diagnosed him with a severe case of heartburn caused by acid reflux. Relieved it wasn't something more serious; Jerry went home to rest and be with his family.
The next morning, however, Jerry felt worse and expressed concern to his wife, Brenda. Brenda helped him get into the car and she drove him to the Emergency Room at their local hospital for further testing. Once again, Jerry was diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems. The ER doctor did not do an EKG or order any blood work at this time.
Jerry went home again to rest and hope his symptoms would soon resolve. The next morning, Jerry began to go into cardiac arrest. His family called 911 and he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.
It was soon realized that they symptoms Jerry was experiencing were not stomach related at all but classic signs leading up to a heart attack. Multiple attempts were made to resuscitate Jerry, but unfortunately he died shortly after he arrived at the hospital, leaving behind his wife and three children.
The above scenario is based on a true story and provides a great example of the harm that can come from a misdiagnosis of a heart attack. Medical malpractice lawsuits result from a vast variety of negligent or careless mistakes from doctors, nurses, or a medical center. A misdiagnosis such as this one can cause irreparable damage and even death that otherwise would have not occurred.
What is misdiagnosis?
Misdiagnosis is a type of medical error. Misdiagnosis can vary from a complete failure to diagnose to incorrect diagnosis, such as diagnosing anxiety instead of a heart attack, to a partial misdiagnosis like diagnosing the incorrect subtype of heart disease or an unfitting cause of the disease or its complications. An associated medical error is a delayed diagnosis, which happens when a doctor does not diagnose a disease until long after it should have been identified.
How common are misdiagnoses?
Misdiagnosis rates vary for different diseases and exact numbers are hard to distinguish. A poll commissioned by the National Patient Safety Foundation showed that one in six people experienced a medical error related to misdiagnosis. Women with heart disease are more likely than men to be misdiagnosed.
One of the few studies of heart disease misdiagnosis available looked at over 10,000 patients (48% women) who went to the emergency room with chest pain and/or other heart attack symptoms. The results showed that 1 in every 50 people who had suffered a heart attack were misdiagnosed and sent away from the hospital.
Women aged 55 or younger were seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed than men of the same age range. The magnitudes of this were massive; being sent away from the hospital doubles the chances of dying.
Why does misdiagnosis occur?
There are many factors that add to misdiagnosed patient rates. In spite of an increasing awareness of the scope of the problem of heart disease, old attitudes about heart disease are still prevalent. Added to the fact that women with heart disease will often show different symptoms than men and tests for heart disease often work differently in women than in men, results in women having a higher chance of misdiagnosis.
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If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a misdiagnosis, please call Moseley Collins. Moseley specializes in winning medical malpractice cases in the cities of Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs. He has over 32 years of experience and has recently won a medical malpractice case that resulted in the largest settlement of its kind in the history of California. Call Moseley today for help.
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