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Focusing on Heart Attack Misdiagnosis during American Heart Month

By: Anapol Weiss

February is American Heart Month, and a reminder for everyone to act as their own medical advocate with regard to their heart health. About 735,000 Americans have a heart attack every year, and about 15 percent of those people will die from it.

A person’s chance of surviving a heart attack increases if emergency treatment is administered as soon as possible, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sadly, one in 50 people who suffer a heart attack is mistakenly sent home by emergency room doctors, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. Other studies have documented even higher rates of missed heart attack diagnosis.

What can patients do to decrease their risk of becoming a diagnosis victim? It’s important for patients to ask questions and follow their own instincts about their symptoms. While it’s a health care provider’s responsibility to listen and act, being vocal about symptoms and concerns can be helpful. Below are a few tips for patients to help avoid a misdiagnosis.

1. Ask for More Tests and Always Request Test Results

No news is not necessarily good news. A 2009 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found a seven percent failure rate in communicating abnormal test results to patients. Either the person was not informed of the test results, researchers found, or the facility had not documented having communicated about the results.

2. Discuss Your Family History

Heart disease risk and the risk factors associated with heart disease are strongly linked to family history, according to the American Heart Association. Sharing family history with a health care provider can be a good start in making a correct and timely diagnosis.

3. Get a Second Opinion

If something still doesn’t seem right, start over and set up an appointment with another physician. Describing symptoms to another professional without the influence of the first physician can result in different and life saving conclusions.

It’s painful to think that loved ones could have been saved if their heart attack had been diagnosed and treated in a more timely fashion. When a person dies or suffers permanent injury as a result of medical negligence, responsible parties must be held accountable. We can help.

Contact our firm for assistance if your loved one suffered a heart attack that was missed by physicians. We have been successfully advocating for victims and their families for decades, and we are prepared and eager to help.