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Who is At Fault for a Seattle Misdiagnosed Heart Attack? 

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on March 16, 2016

Failure to diagnose or treat a heart attack can have fatal consequences. Heart attacks (myocardial infarction) are often misdiagnosed by emergency room doctors, triage nurses, medical student interns, attending doctors, urgent care center physicians, physician assistants, consulting cardiologists, paramedics, and lab technicians. When one of these medical professionals misdiagnoses a heart attack, it must be determined why mistakes were made and if negligence was a contributing factor.

Common examples of malpractice involving a misdiagnosed heart attack include:

  • Making an inaccurate or untimely diagnosis. Often, conditions such as heartburn are diagnosed instead of heart attack. Many heart attack symptoms resemble less serious problems. Emergency departments need to correctly triage a patient who is because the benefit of reperfusion therapy for myocardial infarction is worthless if not initiated in time. Standard of care guidelines are triage within 10 minutes.
  • Failure to recognize symptoms of heart attack. Heart attacks have different type of patient involved. Women, for example, show different signs of heart attack than men. Medical professionals must be aware of the many potential signs of heart attack and order the proper tests.
  • Failure to order proper tests. Victims of heart attack need to receive a coronary angiography for a complete diagnosis. Other tests are available depending on the symptoms exhibited.  Cardiac troponin (cTn) testing and electrocardiogram (ECG) are now essential components in the diagnostic workup of a suspected MI.
  • Misinterpreting the results. Sometimes, doctors order the right tests, but fail to interpret the results properly or accurately. This can cause heart attack symptoms to go untreated. An electrocardiogram (ECG) must be performed and interpreted correctly.  The ST-segment elevation indicates immediate need for reperfusion therapy, often percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) is used. In a patient with absence of ST-segment elevation, NO thrombolytic therapy should be used.
  • Failure to follow up with patient. Some tests require a follow up and patients often exhibit different symptoms over time. Doctors must carefully monitor at risk patients and make sure that the lab tests are accurate.

When a heart attack victim goes undiagnosed, it can result in serious damage to heart muscles. This could prove fatal. If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence, contact an experienced Seattle medical malpractice attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.

When the patient with a suspected heart attack reaches the emergency room, their initial evaluation should be done within 10 minutes of their arrival. A patient should never have to wait more than 20 minutes for an evaluation. On arrival in the emergency room, a patient should get oxygen, sublingual nitroglycerin, proper pain medication, and aspirin.

Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. have guided many people through successful medical malpractice claims after their misdiagnosed heart attack. We have helped heart attack victims and their families secure the settlements they needed to heal and move on. Contact us today at (888) 228-3860.

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