Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds are affected by heart disease. Each year, over 700,000 Americans will suffer a heart attack and over 200,000 people will suffer a heart attack while in the hospital. Thus, it is likely that you will be impacted by a heart attack during your lifetime, whether it is you or a family member that endures a heart attack.
A heart attack, or myocardial infarcation, is the death of cells of the heart muscle due to a lack of oxygen caused by blocking of the blood supply. The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease, which is a condition where plaque builds inside the arteries. Coronary artery spasms and artery tears are also causes of heart attacks.
To properly diagnose a heart attack, a healthcare professional should conduct a full medical evaluation and physical examination. A medical evaluation includes an assessment of whether the patient has common risk factors for a heart attack, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, or a family history of heart disease. Moreover, the healthcare professional should assess whether the patient has common symptoms of a heart attack at the time of the evaluation. While mild to severe chest pain is a well-known indicator of a heart attack, other symptoms should be considered, such as upper body discomfort, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, paleness, fatigue, and anxiety.
In addition to the above assessment, a healthcare professional should conduct a variety of tests to determine whether the patient is suffering from a heart attack. Such tests may include chest X-rays, stress tests, angiograms, echocardiograms, and electrocardiograms (EKG). Upon diagnosis, a healthcare professional’s treatment options include medications, percutaneous coronary intervention procedures, angioplasty, stents, thrombolytic therapy, and bypass surgery.
However, early diagnosis is critical and each minute counts. Any delay in treatment can result in decreased effectiveness of treatment and increased damage to the patient’s heart.
Unfortunately, sometimes healthcare professionals fail to diagnose a heart attack at the onset or altogether, even when a patient is in a hospital’s emergency room. A healthcare professional’s failure to diagnose a heart attack may result in serious consequences for the patient, ranging from health complications, such as arrhythmias, heart failure, heart rupture, anxiety, and depression, to the most severe result: death. It has been estimated that the average cost of a heart attack ranges from $760,000 to $1 million, which includes medical bills, prescription drugs, lost wages, and loss of productivity. Even with insurance, a heart attack can place a substantial financial burden on the patient and his or her family.
If you or a family member have been injured by a healthcare professional’s failure to diagnose a heart attack, it is important to contact a seasoned personal injury attorney as soon as possible to assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve.
An experienced Stamford medical malpractice lawyer can guide you through the complexities of a medical malpractice case against any doctor, nurse, hospital or medical group that may be held responsible for failing to diagnose a heart attack.
Generally, an action for medical malpractice against a healthcare professional must be brought within two years of the date the injury was first sustained or discovered or should have been discovered. All medical malpractice actions must be filed within three years of the date of the healthcare professional’s act or omission that caused the injury.
The complaint must include a certificate by an attorney that a reasonable inquiry gave rise to a good faith belief that there exists an action against each defendant named in the complaint. To avoid dismissal of the case, it essential that a written and signed opinion of a similar healthcare professional is submitted. This opinion must state that there appears to be evidence of medical negligence and must include a detailed basis for the formation of that opinion.
In order to hold a healthcare professional liable for your injuries, you must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the healthcare professional was negligent in failing to diagnose a heart attack. This means that you must demonstrate the following: first, the requisite standard of care for treatment, which is the care of a reasonably prudent similar healthcare professional; second, the healthcare professional’s deviation from that standard of care; and third, a causal connection between the healthcare professional’s deviation and your injury. Generally, you will need a qualified expert witness to testify as to the standard of care and the defendant healthcare professional’s deviation from that standard.
Once liability is established, you must prove the monetary damages you seek to recover. Damages include economic damages, such as lost wages as well as past and future expenses and costs related to your injuries. Non-economic damages are also recoverable for any loss or injury suffered or likely to be suffered in the future, including physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering, loss or diminution of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures, and permanent impairment or loss of function. In certain cases, punitive damages may also be awarded.
Healthcare professionals may raise various defenses, such as contesting the qualifications of your expert witness or arguing that you contributed to your injuries, which is known as comparative or contributory negligence. It is important to have an experienced advocate on your side to protect your case against any defenses that may be raised and to assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve.
If you or a family member has been injured by a healthcare professional’s failure to diagnose a heart attack, it is in your best interest to contact a personal injury firm with medical malpractice experience to protect your rights. The Stamford medical malpractice lawyers at the Law Offices of Piazza, Simmons, and Grant LLC will review your case and provide you with an assessment. You can reach their office for a free consultation at 203-504-5840.