Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Attorneys in New Jersey
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. In fact, in 2020, one in every five deaths was from heart disease.
When a misdiagnosis of a heart attack occurs, the consequences are dangerous. Professionals—like doctors and nurses—trained to recognize the signs of a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) often take quick action to save their patients. However, despite well-established standards of care, people in New Jersey frequently suffer heart attacks that could and should have been diagnosed earlier. When a misdiagnosis of a heart attack occurs, the consequences can be life-threatening and irreversible. Healthcare professionals should be held accountable for misdiagnosing a heart attack. A heart attack misdiagnosis lawyer can help you obtain the justice you deserve.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
Failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, and misdiagnosis are three common forms of medical malpractice.
Misdiagnosis results from a doctor making an incorrect diagnosis. A doctor might have diagnosed the wrong condition and prescribed a course of treatment for that condition, while the actual underlying condition continues to go unchecked and untreated. Misdiagnosis may also occur when a person suffering from a heart attack exhibits symptoms that may mimic other conditions. For example, suppose you visited urgent care because you were experiencing chest pain, and a nurse practitioner misdiagnosed you as having pneumonia even though you had a heart attack. In that case, you may have a claim for medical malpractice, specifically, a heart attack misdiagnosis lawsuit.
A delayed diagnosis occurs when a medical professional significantly delays a correct diagnosis. Failure to diagnose occurs when a physician misses the correct diagnosis altogether. If you experienced a delayed diagnosis or a failure to diagnose a heart attack, a lawyer can help determine liability and potential damages you may be entitled to recover.
Consequences of a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis
A heart attack occurs when there is insufficient blood flow to the heart, causing infarction of myocardial muscle cells. This is as bad as it sounds. A patient may suffer very serious complications, including cardiogenic shock, heart failure, brain damage, and death without immediate medical intervention. Prompt treatment is necessary to minimize the damage after a heart attack or stroke.
A doctor may misdiagnose a patient because they failed to take a thorough health history, neglected to order tests called for by a patient’s symptoms, didn’t spend enough time with the patient, or misread test results.
For example, an elderly patient having a heart attack might be sent home from the emergency room with a diagnosis of indigestion and a bottle of antacids. The patient should ask, Did the doctor perform an EKG to evaluate my heart rhythm? Did they conduct blood tests to measure the cardiac enzyme levels in my blood? Did they give clot-dissolving drugs? If the doctor did not, and the elderly patient had a heart attack, the emergency room doctor could be liable for their negligence and the subsequent damage from not receiving the proper treatment.
Can I Sue My Doctor for Misdiagnosis of a Heart Attack?
Medical malpractice claims, like heart attack misdiagnosis, are notoriously difficult to resolve, requiring extensive research, case preparation, witness interviews, and the help of expert medical witnesses.
To have a valid heart attack misdiagnosis lawsuit, you have to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed and that the medical professional was negligent in not properly diagnosing you. As a result, they did not provide proper treatment, and you suffered harm.
To prove the medical professional was negligent, you must show that the treatment you received fell below the expected standard of care. For example, a patient trying to prove misdiagnosis must show that a doctor in the same or similar specialty would not have misdiagnosed the illness or injury. It’s important to note that misdiagnosis on its own is not necessarily medical malpractice, and not all diagnostic errors give rise to a successful lawsuit. Whether the doctor lived up to the standard of care will likely require an expert opinion.
Lastly, the doctor’s negligence must directly cause your injury. Perhaps the doctor harmed you by not providing the proper treatment. For example, had an emergency room doctor treated your condition as a heart attack rather than heartburn, you may not have suffered irreparable heart damage because proper treatment would have prevented the harm.
In a case of misdiagnosis of a heart attack, the liable parties may include the ER doctors, lab personnel, radiologists, a hospital, and nurses.
Common Case Examples
Whenever a patient reports symptoms of a heart attack (pain above the waist, numbness in the chin, jaw, or hands), doctors typically take a chest X-ray to check for an enlarged heart. They will also perform an EKG to assess the heart’s electrical activity and check for cardiac enzymes in the blood produced when heart cells die. If the doctor fails to take these steps and the patient later suffers a heart attack, the doctor may be held accountable for his carelessness in court. Sometimes, the doctor may have ordered appropriate tests but failed to interpret the results correctly.
Another case scenario involves a patient who survived a previous heart attack and is at an increased risk of another heart attack. Generally, a cardiologist treats those patients. If the cardiologist fails to take the proper steps to reduce the risk of a second heart attack, they could be liable.
Anesthesia errors can also cause a heart attack. If an anesthesiologist negligently administers the wrong amount of anesthesia, the patient could suffer a heart attack or stroke.
A case within a hospital might involve a medical record notating that a patient shows signs and symptoms of heart problems requiring treatment or a specialty referral. If no referral or treatment occurs, the hospital may be liable. Failing to communicate follow-up recommendations demonstrates poor doctor-patient communication and is a common basis for medical malpractice lawsuits.
Get a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Lawyer Who Can Help
The idea of suing your doctor or healthcare facility may seem daunting, but you have certain legal rights and are entitled to exercise them. An experienced heart attack misdiagnosis attorney can review your claim and help you determine the next steps in your case. At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, we are medical malpractice attorneys who achieved the largest medical malpractice verdict in New Jersey—a $28 million settlement. Contact us for a free consultation online or by phone at 908-928-9200.
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Discuss Your Case with Our Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Attorneys Today
If you feel your doctor acted negligently resulting in harm to you or your child it is imperative that you seek counsel. We don’t expect you to come to us knowing all the answers—that’s our job. Many of our cases have yielded more than $5 million for our clients. This money is necessary to support a lifetime of medical care. We will fight on your behalf to provide you with excellent representation. Damages awarded to the victim of a medical malpractice case vary, but our attorneys will always strive to seek the maximum allowable. After a thorough review of your case, together, we will determine the most appropriate course of action. Contact us online or call at 1-908-251-9368 or 1-800-586-5817.