Heart Attack Malpractice
Fortunately for many people, there are a number of warning signs indicating cardiovascular disease. Although most health care professionals are trained to quickly identify these early warnings and initiate the proper treatment, there are still many cases where these symptoms are missed. The results of missing the warning signs of cardiovascular disease can be devastating, debilitating and, many times, fatal. Quite often, a health care professional who misses the warning signs of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attacks and strokes, may represent medical malpractice.
Duffy & Duffy’s trial lawyers are here to help if you or a family member believes that signs of a heart attack were missed or mistreated by your physician. For more information on heart attacks, please see below.
What is a Heart Attack?
Heart attacks, which are also referred to as myocardial infarctions, represent the death of part of the heart muscle due to lack of oxygen. Although some people may survive a heart attack, many others do not. How soon a patient gets the right type of treatment, and how early the warning signs are picked up, can make a tremendous difference in the outcome.
What are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
There are some specific warning signs of a heart attack that every person should be aware of, and that every health care professional should be able to quickly identify to immediately initiate the right type of treatment. The most common warning signs of a heart attack are:
- feelings of crushing pressure on the chest
- pain that radiate outward or down the arm
- shortness of breath
- rapid pulse
- sudden sweatiness
How Can Malpractice Occur with Heart Attacks?
Many cases of malpractice have occurred when a health care professional does not pick up on the early warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack — sending the patient home rather than do further testing. Instead, patients presenting with these symptoms should be given the following tests:
- an electrocardiogram, to identify if the heart is beating properly or if there have been any disruptions;
- a creatinine phosphate conaise (CPK) test, identifying whether the CPK enzyme (which signals that a heart attack has occurred) is present in the blood. It is critical that a physician performs the test at the proper time; doing it too early will not give the right results and may indicate that a person did not have a heart attack when they really did.
- specific tests/x-rays looking for evidence of an aortic aneurysm (a bulge in the outer wall of the main artery that comes from the heart, caused by a tear in the inner lining.) Not performing the tests that can pick up this condition, or misreading test results that can detect the aneurysm, can have devastating consequences, and may indicate medical malpractice.