You might ask, “How could a doctor miss a heart attack?” It does happen, as not every person having a heart attack presents with the classic symptoms of severe or crushing chest pain that radiates to the left arm, shortness of breath and severe sweating. Sometimes the only symptoms of a heart attack are a sensation of profound weakness, nausea and vomiting and a confused state.
A heart attack results from the sudden blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle itself. Blood supplies the heart with oxygen that it needs to survive. Without oxygen, the affected heart muscle dies.
Often a person experiencing symptoms felt to be a heart attack, will present to an emergency department where an EKG (electrocardiogram) and cardiac enzymes will be ordered by the doctor as a way to determine if indeed a heart attack is occurring. Often the EKG and cardiac enzymes initially are normal and despite the patient’s clinical history, the patient is sent home only to have a full-blown heart attack after leaving the emergency department. If a patient’s clinical history alone is strongly suggestive of a heart attack, regardless of a normal EKG and normal cardiac enzymes, it may be sufficient reason to require admission to a hospital’s monitored unit. Often the diagnosis of heart attack cannot be excluded until EKG and cardiac enzymes have been followed for a period of several hours.
If you or a family member has suffered as a result of a misdiagnosis of heart attack or failure to diagnose a heart attack contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at KMH.