Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Lawyer
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. Every year, more than 800,000 Americans will suffer a heart attack, a common but serious condition that requires prompt medical attention.
Unfortunately, thousands of heart attacks are misdiagnosed every year, and many patients suffer severe or even fatal consequences as a result. If you have been affected by a delayed heart attack diagnosis in Alabama, contact the dedicated Birmingham medical malpractice attorneys at Serious Injury Law Group today for your free, confidential case review.
Who Can Be Responsible for a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis?
Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals undergo rigorous training to practice in their field. So, when we visit them for emergencies or routine check-ups, we expect a high standard of professional conduct. We rely on these healthcare workers to provide correct, timely diagnoses. We entrust them with our health and our lives.
When medical professionals fail to live up to these standards by misdiagnosing or delaying the diagnosis of a heart attack, patients endure needless suffering and some even die as a result. Several types of healthcare providers could be responsible for a heart attack misdiagnosis, including:
- Family physicians
- Primary care doctors
- Urgent care doctors or nurses
- Emergency room (ER) triage nurses
- ER physicians
- Consulting physicians
- Medical residents and interns
- Lab technicians
According to research published in the medical journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, heart attack patients who visit lower-volume emergency rooms may be at greater risk of misdiagnosis than those in higher-volume ERs. Researchers suggest that this may be because busier ERs tend to have better access to newer, more sensitive diagnostic equipment or because healthcare providers at smaller ERs may have less overall experience with heart attack patients.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack and How to Diagnose Them
Heart attack symptoms are similar to the symptoms of many other conditions and may vary considerably from person to person. These factors cause medical professionals to misdiagnose heart attacks at an alarmingly high rate.
A report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that U.S. doctors fail to accurately diagnose as many as 2 to 5 percent of heart attack cases each year, meaning thousands of American patients go without the prompt medical treatment they need, sometimes with fatal consequences.
The most common heart attack symptoms seen among men include:
- Pain in the jaw, shoulder, arm, neck, or back
- Pain or feelings of tightness in the chest
- Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Intense anxiety
While women sometimes experience these so-called “classic” heart attack symptoms, they are at a higher risk of heart attack misdiagnosis than men because women often present atypical symptoms, such as:
- Sleep problems and fatigue
- Shortness of breath and feeling flushed
- Vomiting and feelings of nausea
- Non-radiating pain
- Feelings of heaviness in the arms
- Gastric pain in the upper abdomen
When physicians suspect the possibility of a heart attack, they typically order one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
- Blood tests, to check for certain proteins
- Electrocardiograms, to measure the heart’s electrical signals
- Echocardiograms, or ultrasounds of the heart
- Chest x-rays, to check the size of the heart
- Angiograms, or coronary catheterizations
- Cardiac MRI tests or CT scans
How Are the Damages Calculated in a Misdiagnosed Heart Attack?
If you suffered because of a misdiagnosed heart attack, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses through a personal injury claim. But how much money could you recover for your unique case? While there’s no precise formula, a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer can estimate the value of your claim. A heart attack misdiagnosis attorney in Birmingham can accurately evaluate the personal and financial losses you incurred as a result of your heart attack misdiagnosis, including the costs associated with the following:
- Any past or present medical expenses related to your misdiagnosis
- Possible future healthcare expenses related to your misdiagnosis
- Any needed rehabilitation treatments, home accessibility modifications, or in-home caregiving
- Lost income from missed time at work or lost potential future earnings, if you become disabled and cannot continue your previous line of work
- The pain, suffering, and psychological distress you endured because of your heart attack misdiagnosis
- Loss of quality of life due to disability, pain, or disfigurement
- Loss of companionship or family support, if your loved ones suffer
- Punitive damages, which are awarded in rare cases of extreme negligence to punish liable parties and discourage similar behavior in the future
Time Limit for Filing a Claim After a Delayed Heart Attack Diagnosis
All states have statute of limitations laws that impose strict limits on the amount of time you have to bring your case to trial. In Alabama, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is two years. This means that the legal deadline to file your claim in court is two years from the date of your heart attack misdiagnosis.
In some cases, people may not be immediately aware of their misdiagnosis until months or even years later. Because of this, Alabama’s statute also provides an exception that grants malpractice victims six additional months from the date of their discovery of the misdiagnosis, as long as they file their lawsuits no more than four years from the date of the original medical error.
If you wait to file until the statute of limitations has expired, your case will likely be dismissed by the court. You will also lose your ability to recover compensation through a malpractice insurance claim since you can no longer rely on the threat of legal action in settlement negotiations. Therefore, it’s important to act quickly if you believe you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Serious Injury Law Group can help.
How Serious Injury Law Group Can Help You
Our Birmingham heart attack misdiagnosis lawyers have the right skills, experience, and resources to handle even the most complex of medical malpractice claims, including claims based on a delayed heart attack diagnosis or heart attack misdiagnosis. If you or a loved one suffered a heart attack as a result of a medical professional’s failure to diagnose the condition accurately or in a timely manner, we can help you get answers and justice.
We are standing by, ready to discuss your case. Call us or reach out to us online for a free consultation today. We are available to meet with you wherever is most convenient, including your home, hospital, or remotely.