News & Resources

October 12, 2015. Category: Medical Malpractice

Misdiagnosed Heart Attacks Kill or Injure Thousands Every Year

No one knows exactly how many people die from misdiagnosed heart attacks every year. Misdiagnosed heart attacks are distressingly common, especially among female patients. Women having a heart attack are more likely to be misdiagnosed because they often don’t experience the classic symptom of severe chest pain according to a 2014 study.

Researchers from New England Medical Center in Boston reported in The New England Journal of Medicine back in April 2000 that one in 50 heart attack victims were mistakenly sent home by ER doctors. Other studies have documented higher rates of missed heart attacks. This shocking reality results in thousands of deaths and injuries every year in the United States alone.

A misdiagnosed heart attack could be the result of medical malpractice, so it is important to contact one of the experienced Tampa medical malpractice lawyers at Alley, Clark & Greiwe immediately after discovering the misdiagnosis.

The Golden Hour

In general, a heart attack must be treated within an hour after the onset of symptoms to avoid muscle death and scarring of the heart. Still, this one-hour deadline is difficult for doctors to meet even when a heart attack is promptly diagnosed. If the victim survives an undetected heart attack, the resulting heart damage could cause a second heart attack at a later time.

Common Medical Errors Leading to Misdiagnosis

Most misdiagnosed heart attacks can be traced to one of a handful of common medical errors, including:

  • Misreading the patient’s electrocardiogram (ECG). Properly reading an ECG requires advanced training and a doctor can easily miss subtle abnormalities that indicate a heart attack.
  • Failure to properly interpret atypical heart attack symptoms, such as tingling in the arms and shoulders, bloated stomach, shortness of breath, dizziness, heartburn, jaw pain, nausea and sweating. Women are far more likely than men to suffer atypical heart attack symptoms.
  • Overlooking telltale heart attack symptoms in a young patient. Heart attacks in young people are often misdiagnosed simply because they are rare among this age group.

Lawsuits and Settlements

In Tampa, medical malpractice is governed by Florida personal injury law. The issue in a heart attack misdiagnosis lawsuit is not the heart attack itself, but the harm caused by the misdiagnosis. If the victim dies, a spouse and/or dependent children can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Although you might secure an out-of-court settlement on a missed diagnosed heart attack claim (since most personal injury claims are resolved out of court), you may need to file a lawsuit to pressure the defendant to issue an adequate settlement offer.

Statute of Limitations

The Florida statute of limitations requires you to file a lawsuit within two years of the date that you knew or should have known of the misdiagnosis. If you miss that deadline, you will have missed your opportunity to hold the appropriate parties responsible for your injuries.

Pursuing a Claim

Hospitals and doctors vigorously defend medical malpractice lawsuits because they consider them to be attacks on their professional reputations. In addition, medical malpractice lawsuits are complex and require the testimony of expert medical witnesses.

Here at Alley, Clark & Greiwe, we possess decades of combined experience in medical malpractice litigation. Additionally, we maintain an extensive network of qualified expert witnesses. If you believe that you might be the victim of a misdiagnosed heart attack, now is the time to act. Call us at 813-222-0977 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation with us.

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