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Failure to diagnose a heart attack is a sometimes a fatal error

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

People who are having symptoms of a heart attack, such as sudden and sharp chest pain or trouble breathing, will often dial 911 or head to the nearest emergency room for help. Once there, they expect that the medical team on call will make an accurate diagnosis so they can receive life-saving treatment.

Unfortunately, not everyone who seeks medical care for a heart attack receives the care they need. Failure to diagnose a heart attack is a serious concern that can result in fatal consequences.

Immediate health risks

Significant heart damage can occur if a heart attack isn’t diagnosed promptly. The patient may not receive the care they need to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. This can lead to extensive damage to the heart tissue that leads to an inability to function effectively. In severe cases, a heart attack that isn’t diagnosed and treated can lead to the patient dying.

Long-term complications

If a patient survives after a failure to diagnose a heart attack, long-term complications can severely impact their quality of life. These complications often include chronic heart failure, arrhythmias and an increased risk of recurrent heart attacks.

Heart failure can lead to persistent fatigue, shortness of breath and swelling in the legs and ankles. Patients who experience an undiagnosed heart attack are at a higher risk for subsequent cardiac events because the underlying issues contributing to the heart attack remain unaddressed.

Importance of timely diagnosis

Healthcare providers must be vigilant in recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack. Standard diagnostic procedures, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs) and blood tests for cardiac enzymes, should be promptly administered when a heart attack is suspected.

Patients who deal with a failure to diagnose a heart attack may opt to pursue a medical malpractice claim. These cases can often involve very complex elements, so it is generally best to have an expert medical witness involved. Working with a legal representative familiar with these cases may make the process easier to handle successfully.