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Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney Discusses Misdiagnosed Heart Attacks

March 16, 2015

Some illnesses and injuries are well known to the general public for having specific, "telltale" symptoms. For example, chest pain and difficulty breathing are well known as being symptoms of a heart attack. Of course, not all people who have heart attacks experience those symptoms, and some people who experience chest pain and difficulty breathing are not experiencing a heart attack. This is where doctors and hospitals come in, to look beyond the symptoms that a patient is reporting in order to assess what is happening with their body.

Medical professionals have many diagnostic tools at their disposal, including many types of tests and scans, as well as their own observations and experience. Why, then, are some patients who are experiencing a heart attack misdiagnosed and not given the proper treatment? There is no clear answer, and, unfortunately, heart attack misdiagnoses occur more often than most people know.

It is estimated that for every fifty people who suffer heart attacks, one is misdiagnosed and treated for something other than a heart attack. A disproportionate number of the misdiagnosed individuals are women. For some reason, the symptoms of heart attack present differently in women than in men. This difference is beginning to permeate the public awareness, as more information is released in health magazines and on the internet regarding women and heart attacks. For example, a woman who is having a heart attack may not feel intense chest pain, but she might experience upper back pain, discomfort or pressure in her lower chest or her upper abdomen, or extreme and sudden fatigue. She may dismiss the pain as being some sort of gastrointestinal issue that should work itself out, or some other type of temporary discomfort. If she does seek medical assistance, the symptoms that she describes may not lead a doctor to order the types of tests that would detect cardiac problems. In other words, she is at risk for being misdiagnosed.

One example of a heart attack misdiagnosis scenario involves a man who felt nauseous after eating breakfast one morning. The nausea persisted, and the man started experiencing other symptoms, including chest pain, over the course of a few days. He sought assistance at an emergency room, where the doctors looked for the cause for his symptoms. Unfortunately, they did not perform any tests which could have indicated that he was experiencing a heart attack, so he was released a few hours later even though he still felt sick. A day or so later, he fell to the ground clutching his chest and died of a heart attack. His widow brought a medical malpractice claim on his behalf and prevailed because his heart attack had been misdiagnosed.

If you have lost someone you love because of a misdiagnosed heart attack, call our experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers for your free consultation to learn about your legal rights.

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