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If you arrive at the hospital with the classic symptoms of a heart attack — chest pain, jaw or arm pain, sweating and dizziness — doctors should assume you are having a heart attack. Too often, doctors assume that the symptoms are caused by indigestion or another less-serious problem. Patients are sent home, where they sometimes suffer a massive heart attack. Were your heart attack symptoms misdiagnosed at a clinic or emergency room? Did a member of your family die because a doctor made the wrong decision? The Ohio heart attack malpractice lawyer of The O’Keefe Firm in Dayton, Ohio represents people whose cardiac symptoms were misdiagnosed or mistreated. Our heart attack lawyers have achieved positive results for clients in heart attack malpractice lawsuits.
In some cases, doctors decide to take a wait-and-see approach to heart disease symptoms, but end up waiting too long. If thrombolytics, clot-busting drugs, are administered in time, they can break up an arterial blockage and minimize the extent of damage to heart tissue. The drugs must be administered within a few hours of the heart attack to be effective. A misdiagnosis can prevent a patient from receiving this treatment. Surgical intervention can also save the life of a heart attack patient. A misdiagnosis means a patient is denied these potentially life-saving options.
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. Our heart attack 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.
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.
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:
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 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.
Unfortunately, many people who appear at doctors' offices and emergency rooms with symptoms of a heart attack are misdiagnosed. Often they are sent home, where they later experience a fatal heart attack. Doctors often look for classic symptoms of heart attack, like crushing chest pain and numbness running down an arm or leg. But other heart attack symptoms are much more subtle. Warning signs of a sudden heart attack include:
Women are more likely to experience heart attack symptoms other than chest pain, including unusual or unexplained fatigue. A study by the National Institutes of Health indicates that women often develop symptoms as much as a month or more before experiencing heart attacks. Fewer than 30 percent of women in the NIH study reported having chest pain or discomfort prior to their heart attacks, and 43 percent reported having no chest pain during any phase of the attack. Doctors who still consider chest pain as the primary indicator of heart attack risk misdiagnosis of both women and men.