Some people experience a heart attack like an elephant jumping on their chests, but for many others, the signs aren’t so obvious. That’s why experts always advise people to seek medical help as soon as they start experiencing possible symptoms of a heart attack.
An experienced medical professional in Indiana should be able to diagnose a heart attack or heart disease and start treatment immediately. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. When a doctor fails to properly diagnose a heart attack or heart disease, the patient can lose valuable time for treatment, and in the worst cases, this type of serious misdiagnosis could cost a patient serious injury or even his or her life.
About Our Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Attorney
If you or a loved one is suffering in the aftermath of a heart attack misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis of heart disease, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorney at the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson today to discuss your legal options.
Kelley J. Johnson is well-versed in the complexities of Indiana medical malpractice law, and will show the utmost care and compassion for patients and families who have suffered through the trauma and stress of a misdiagnosis. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation.
Why Does a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Occur?
There is a reason for the phrase “serious as a heart attack.” Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Indiana, killing more than 13,000 people in the state in 2013, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
Despite the prevalence of heart disease, misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses can and do occur. Failure to properly diagnose a person experiencing a heart attack or heart disease may be due to a variety of reasons.
Common Reasons for a Delayed Heart Disease Diagnosis
- Atypical symptoms (particularly in women)
- Errors in the emergency room
- Lack of experience among medical staff (such as with medical students and interns)
- Lack of resources to make a proper diagnosis
- Failure to complete a comprehensive physical exam
- Failure to thoroughly review a patient’s medical history
- Failure to order proper diagnostic tests
- Failure to properly communicate with other medical staff or with the patient
- Assumptions based on a patient’s young age
Whether you are seeking treatment in a hospital emergency room, an urgent care center or from a family doctor, you should be able to trust that your healthcare provider is capable of making an accurate and timely diagnosis.
However, if you or a loved one has been the victim of a heart disease misdiagnosis and has suffered serious injury or death as the result of a delay in the diagnosis, do not hesitate to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review your case and determine how you may be able to hold the negligent party accountable.
Common and Atypical Heart Attack Symptoms
Heart attacks aren’t always sudden and intense, like people are accustomed to seeing in the movies, the American Heart Association explains. Symptoms can come on slowly, and many people may not even realize the danger that they are in until they seek medical attention.
According to the American Heart Association, signs of a heart attack may include:
- Discomfort in the chest that may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Blood tests.
Women, in particular, can experience atypical heart attack symptoms that may be mistaken for the flu or acid reflux, the American Heart Association warns. However, a trained medical professional should be able to recognize the signs and order the appropriate tests to make a proper diagnosis.
What Makes a Misdiagnosed Heart Attack a Malpractice Case in Indiana?
When a heart attack is misdiagnosed, the results can be devastating both for the patient and his or her family. If a patient isn’t treated properly or in a timely manner, or if symptoms are overlooked and the patient is sent home, a misdiagnosis can even translate to a death sentence. It is well known that “time is tissue” and immediate and timely intervention can make a significant difference.
In Indiana, doctors and other medical professionals are held to a recognized standard of care. They are expected to review a patient’s symptoms and medical history, as well as order the appropriate diagnostic tests (such as an EKG and blood tests) to determine whether the patient is experiencing a heart attack. When these trusted professionals fail to uphold the proper standard of care, patients who have suffered a heart attack misdiagnosis and their families have a right to pursue compensation.
How to Pursue Compensation for a Missed or Delayed Heart Diagnosis
Medical malpractice is generally defined as improper, unskilled or negligent treatment of a patient by a healthcare professional that results in serious harm or death. That may seem like a simple definition, but the process for pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be complex and lengthy in Indiana.
Contact a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a heart attack misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis of heart disease, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced heart attack misdiagnosis attorney.
Our knowledgeable attorney can thoroughly review your claim, help you gather the necessary medical records, and consult with her personal network of medical experts to determine whether your healthcare provider performed negligently and whether your injuries are the result of that negligence.
Medical Review Panel
Based on this evidence, if your attorney feels you have a medical malpractice claim, the next step is to file a copy of the proposed complaint with the Indiana Insurance Department’s Medical Malpractice Division, which will alert the defendant(s) named in the complaint. Then your case will go before a Medical Review Panel made up of three doctors and an attorney. Both sides will submit written evidence to the panel, which has 180 days to issue an opinion.
Once the Medical Review Panel has completed its review, your attorney will go over your next steps. The panel’s opinion can be used in court, and its members may be called to testify in your case. So although the panel’s opinion is not the final word, a negative review can hurt your chances if you decide to go to court despite it.
Filing a Lawsuit
After the review, if you and your attorney feel your case has merit, the next step is to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in State court. Your attorney may also recommend negotiating a settlement with the medical provider and his or her insurance company.
Either way, if your medical malpractice case ends with you successfully recovering compensation from the underlying health care provider, you may need to go through the Patient’s Compensation Fund to collect your damages. Under Indiana law, the healthcare provider’s contribution toward your damages is capped at $250,000. For damages in excess of $250,000, you must file a petition with the PCF to receive compensation, but only up to an additional $1 million. This means your total damages are capped at $1.25 million.
As you can see, the whole process is rather complex and takes a lot of time, so consult with an attorney as soon as possible to get started on your case.
Contact Our Indianapolis Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Lawyer
Just like minutes matter when a person first starts experiencing the signs of a heart attack, time is of the essence when filing a medical malpractice claim. Indiana law generally gives patients and their families two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit, so it is crucial to contact an experienced attorney as soon as you suspect malpractice.
At the medical malpractice law firm of the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we have more than 15 years of litigation experience, and we are proud of our history of standing up for the rights of patients in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana. If you feel that you or a loved one has suffered from a heart attack misdiagnosis, contact us today. We can help you determine whether you are eligible to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Fill out our online contact form or give us a call to schedule your free consultation.