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Ken Margolin
Ken Margolin
Contributor •

Missed Heart Attack Diagnosis

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For years, we have been hearing of the importance of a prompt trip to the emergency room or a call to “911” if one is suffering from symptoms of potential heart attack. The expectation is that once in the care of physicians, the various tests available to detect heart attacks will be correctly employed and proper treatment administered. It turns out that getting to the emergency room on time may not be enough. A New England Journal of Medicine article last year, reported that one in 50 heart attack victims are mistakenly sent home by emergency room doctors. The causes of such misdiagnosis range from lack of adequately trained personnel to overburdened emergency room staff, to plain old bad medicine. Failure to detect a coronary can be fatal, as evidenced by a case of undiagnosed heart attack resulting in death, reported in USA Today. The same USA Today article cited a study by Jury Verdict Research concluding that heart attack malpractice cases produced verdicts amongst the largest for all categories of medical malpractice. CRICO/Risk Management Foundation, the malpractice insurer for Harvard-affiliated health care facilities, agrees that heart attack misdiagnosis can lead to malpractice claims and significant payouts.