Medical providers have legal obligations to treat patients in accordance with accepted standards of their profession, which includes accurately diagnosing heart disease or heart attack when patients display signs and symptoms and providing appropriate treatment.
If you or a loved one suffered injury or loss after a medical professional failed to diagnose heart disease or heart attack, you may be entitled to compensation. The Becker Law Firm, one of Cleveland’s most respected civil trial law firms with a record of success in complex medical malpractice cases throughout Ohio and the U.S., has successfully represented families in failure to diagnose claims. Our team is available to help explore your options for taking legal action.
Why Choose The Becker Law Firm?
- We’ve recovered over $500 million in compensation for our clients.
- We won the largest personal injury settlement for an individual in Ohio history ($60.7M).
- We’re led by two NBTA Certified Civil Trial Lawyers (Michael Becker and Romney Cullers).
- Our attorneys have over 100 years of collective legal experience.
- We’ve been voted among the nation’s“Best Law Firms” by U.S. News.
Since 1980, The Becker Law Firm has excelled in medical negligence cases involving serious injuries and wrongful death. With award-winning trial lawyers, including attorneys who are Registered Nurses, our team can help victims seek the justice they deserve.
Contact us to request a FREE case review.
Heart Disease / Heart Attack Diagnostic Errors & Medical Malpractice
Cardiac conditions can pose an urgent danger to patients and must be diagnosed and treated quickly. When they aren’t, patients may face risks of suffering serious medical setbacks or death.
In many cases involving diagnostic errors and heart disease / heart attack, a patient may seek medical treatment or visit an emergency room with symptoms that warrant further evaluation (including chest or arm pain, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, cold sweats, or shortness of breath) and may be indicative of cardiac conditions such as:
- Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart infections
- Congestive heart failure
- Aortic aneurysms
- Valvular heart disease.
Instead of being appropriately tested and screened for heart-related conditions, providers treating patients who present with these symptoms may fail to take proper steps toward diagnosing a patient’s problem or may misdiagnose a patient’s condition as some other innocuous issue, such as acid reflux.
Can Doctors Be Held Liable for Failing to Diagnose a Heart Attack or Heart Disease?
In short, yes. Doctors and other health care providers can be held legally responsible for failing to diagnose conditions of the heart and financially liable for the resulting damages victims suffer. This includes failures to diagnose a STEMI heart attack (ST-elevation myocardial infarction), which is a complete blockage of the coronary artery, or a NSTEMI heart attack (non ST-elevation myocardial infarction), which is a partial coronary artery blockage.
Though victims have the right to file civil medical malpractice claims over preventable errors and injuries, these are complex cases that require a meticulous review of the unique facts involved. They also require victims to prove medical providers failed to meet their duty of care. Generally, this means:
The medical provider, when evaluating or treating the patient, failed to act in a manner an adequately skilled and trained medical provider would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.
Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses are the most common claims asserted in medical malpractice lawsuits, according to studies like one published by BMJ Journals. What’s more, the most commonly misdiagnosed adverse event for adults, aside from cancer, is heart attack.
Was My Doctor Negligent in Failing to Diagnose Heart Disease?
Whether treatment received by you or your loved one constitutes malpractice depends on the circumstances. In medical malpractice cases, and failure to diagnose claims in particular, it is alleged that providers failed to meet the applicable standard of care for the situation.
This “standard of care” or “duty of care” can differ from case to case, but may involve providers who:
- Overlook heart disease or cardiovascular conditions in patients who don’t fit the typical heart-disease victim profile (i.e. younger patients, patients with no history of heart-related problems, etc.), or who overlook heart disease in patients with known risk factors (i.e. family history of heart disease, obesity, smoking, diabetes, etc.);
- Fail to recognize or appreciate warning signs or symptoms associated with heart disease, heart attack, or other serious cardiac conditions, and respond accordingly;
- Fail to order or perform appropriate testing or properly interpret test results, including tests such as ECG / EKG, echocardiogram / ultrasound, cardiac catheterization, chest X-rays, MRIs, and blood / lab tests;
- Fail to perform an adequate medical history, evaluation, or initial screening of the patient;
- Fail to adequately document risk factors, patient complaints, findings, or potential issues in medical notes;
- Fail to properly communicate a patient’s condition or potential risk factors to other providers involved in their care (i.e. errors when referring patients to specialists, or administrative and medical record errors in patient hand-offs);
- Misdiagnose heart disease or heart attacks as less serious medical conditions or fail to properly perform a differential diagnosis to rule out other conditions (i.e. ulcers, indigestion or acid reflux, gallstones, or panic attacks).
These and other avoidable errors can result in patients not receiving the care they need when they need it and lead to otherwise preventable medical events, injuries, or death. If you believe a provider’s conduct failed to meet the standard of care and the outcome would have been different had they met their legal duty, you may have grounds for legal action.
Because these are fact-specific cases, The Becker Law Firm offers free and confidential consultations to help families determine whether medical providers failed to act appropriately when screening or treating a patient who later suffered cardiovascular-related harm.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Failing to Diagnose a Heart Condition?
The parties who may be named as defendants in a failure to diagnose case will vary. As patients are often treated by a number of providers, there may also be multiple potentially liable parties.
Examples of liable parties in malpractice claims involving heart disease, heart attack, or other cardiovascular conditions include:
- Emergency Departments (ER malpractice) or hospitals;
- Triage nurses, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners;
- Internists or hospitalists;
- Cardiologists, including consulting cardiologists / specialists;
- General practitioners or family doctors; and
- Lab technicians / diagnostic professionals.
What Compensation Can I Recover?
Victims of medical negligence have the right to recover financial compensation for resulting economic and non-economic damages. This can include:
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Medical bills and future medical expenses;
- Emotional injuries, including mental anguish;
- Lost income and lost future earnings; and
- Emotional suffering endured by a victim’s family.
Our attorneys work closely with experts to calculate damages and help clients assess the potential value of their cases, focusing on both their economic losses (including any expected future expenses) and the emotional suffering that accompanies life-changing injuries or wrongful death.
Examples of our failure to diagnose case results:
- $4.35 million settlement for the family of a man after a dermatopathologist failed to diagnose early Stage 1 Melanoma (skin cancer), that progressed to Stage IV metastatic disease, and resulted in his wrongful death.
- $4 million settlement against obstetrical providers who failed to timely diagnose uterine rupture in a pregnant mother, resulting in birth asphyxia to the baby, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays.
- $3.75 million settlement for the family of a 56-year-old man who died of a fatal cardiovascular condition several hours after discharge from an ER department at an Ohio community hospital.
- $2.75 million settlement over failure to timely diagnose pre-eclampsia in a 23-year-old pregnant mother, who ultimately sustained eclampsia (seizures) resulting in her wrongful death.
Request a FREE Case Evaluation. Call (440) 252-4399.
The Becker Law Firm works with experts in cardiology and other related fields to prepare cases for the families of loved ones whose heart disease was misdiagnosed. We have handled numerous medical malpractice cases related to failure to diagnose and / or treat heart disease, and we encourage victims to contact us for a free case evaluation. We represent clients throughout the state of Ohio and beyond.