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Failure to Diagnose a Heart Attack Correctly: What Now?

New York Delayed Diagnosis Attorneys Assisting with Medical Malpractice Claims

If you visit an emergency department or your regular physician because you are experiencing certain symptoms, you should be able to expect that you will receive a proper diagnosis. However, emergency room doctors and other healthcare providers can make mistakes that result in delayed diagnoses and, ultimately, misdiagnoses. If you were not properly diagnosed with a heart attack, you could be at risk of a more serious major heart attack, or you may have already suffered additional harm as a result of the failure to diagnose your condition accurately.

If your healthcare provider failed to diagnose a heart attack correctly, what should you do now? First and most importantly, you should see another doctor immediately in order to receive life-saving treatment. Then, you need to contact an experienced New York medical malpractice attorney to learn about filing a medical malpractice claim.

Get Help from a Healthcare Provider

There are a variety of diagnostic tests and procedures to accurately diagnose a heart attack and to plan for treatment and medical care. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), diagnostic tests and procedures can be either “non-invasive” or “invasive.” Generally speaking, non-invasive diagnostic tests typically involve medical imaging, while invasive diagnostic procedures may “include insertion of a tube, device, or scope.” Depending upon the specific details of your situation, you may need to undergo immediate treatment.

For patients who are not quickly and accurately diagnosed with a heart attack, invasive surgery may be necessary. Indeed, when heart attacks are diagnosed quickly, the patient may be able to be treated through thrombolysis, which is a “procedure that involves injecting a clot-dissolving agent to restore blood flow in a coronary artery,” according to the American Heart Association. However, when a patient is not diagnosed within a few hours of the heart attack, the AHA emphasizes that the patient may need to “undergo coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft surgery . . . to improve blood supply to the heart muscle.” If you were not accurately diagnosed, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible to receive an accurate diagnosis and to plan for life-saving treatment.  

Understand a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis

If your heart attack, or a loved one’s heart attack, was improperly diagnosed, it is important to understand how these kinds of devastating misdiagnoses can occur. According to a study out of the University of Leeds, as many as one-third of people who visit doctors or emergency rooms with heart attacks are misdiagnosed. The following are just some of the ways that a heart attack misdiagnosis can occur:

  • Diagnosing the patient with another condition such as anxiety, heartburn, or pneumonia;
  • Misreading the patient’s EKG, blood test, or another type of scan or diagnostic procedure;
  • Failing to consider a heart attack as a possible diagnosis because of the person’s age or health history (for example, a younger, healthy patient might be misdiagnosed based on age alone);
  • Failing to consider the patient’s family medical history and history of heart disease in diagnosing a heart attack;
  • Failing to order appropriate diagnostic tests to accurately diagnose a heart attack; or
  • Reporting error by the laboratory supplying test results.

Without quick treatment, not only can much more invasive procedures be necessary to save the patient’s life, but the patient can also suffer irreparable harm that may include scarring and muscle death. In many cases, a heart attack misdiagnosis is ultimately fatal.

File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Once you understand the ways in which heart attack misdiagnoses can occur, it is time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent party or parties. The following are examples of parties who could be at fault for a heart attack misdiagnosis:

  • Emergency room doctor;
  • Primary care provider;
  • Nurse practitioner or nurse;
  • Hospital or other facility where the misdiagnosis occurred;
  • Laboratory where tests were performed; or
  • Lab technician who performed the tests.

In some cases, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against more than one party. Under all circumstances, you need to make sure to file your claim as quickly as possible. Under New York law, heart attack misdiagnosis claims typically must be filed within two years and six months from the date of the misdiagnosis. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that time window, the claim can become time-barred.

Contact Our New York Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Attorneys

Whether you suffered harm as a result of the failed diagnosis, or you lost a loved one due to the failure to properly diagnose a heart attack, one of our New York medical malpractice lawyers can begin working on your case. We serve clients throughout upstate New York in Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, and Troy. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP today.

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