Despite recent advances in heart disease diagnosis and treatment, “missed” heart attacks and other conditions are not uncommon. If you or someone you love has suffered complications due to such an error, contact our cardiac misdiagnosis attorneys in St. Petersburg, Florida.
We have decades of collective experience overseeing personal injury and medical malpractice claims. Our legal team can assess your case, help identify the liable parties, and discuss the best strategies for pursuing compensation. Call us today at (727) 821-1500 to speak to one of our lawyers.
How Much Is My Cardiac Misdiagnosis Case Worth?
Misdiagnosed heart disease can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Many victims incur tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt, are unable to work while they recover, and require additional care. This is where a cardiac misdiagnosis attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida may be able to help.
Unfortunately, we can’t promise you a specific outcome; no law firm can. We can, however, guide you through this challenging chapter of your life by answering your questions, assisting with your claim, and representing you and your family during proceedings.
Below are a few factors that may influence the potential value of your financial award:
- Are You Unable to Earn a Living? A doctor’s failure to diagnose heart disease can sideline you from work, leaving you with no other option than to sit and watch as weeks of wages go down the drain. If you suffered a permanent disability, it’s possible you may never be able to work again. For many families, just a single missed paycheck can lead to financial turmoil. Fortunately, plaintiffs in a medical malpractice case have a right to seek compensation for wages they’ve lost as a direct result of their healthcare provider’s negligence. You should compile any documents that could help you prove lost income such as pay stubs, bank statements, letters from your employer, and tax returns. Your attorney may consult with various financial experts such economists and vocational experts to estimate a fair settlement for such losses.
- Will You Require Additional Treatment? A “missed” heart attack or other condition can give rise to numerous health complications that can cost a small fortune to treat. As such, your medical bills—both past and future—could make up the lion’s share of your potential settlement. Expenses that could form part of your financial award might include physical therapy, surgeries, prescription medication, and other healthcare interventions.
- Are You Experiencing Pain and Suffering? Heart disease isn’t just painful in the moment; it can lead to long-term suffering that will have a detrimental effect on your quality of life. While the psychological effects of your condition are difficult to quantify, you may be able to seek compensation for such damages. Your attorney might advise you to log your pain levels and other symptoms in a personal injury journal. He or she may rely on this diary, expert witness testimony, and psychiatric reports to build a case for non-economic damages such as loss of life enjoyment, pain, and suffering.
What Are the Common Symptoms of a Heart Attack?
While the signs of a heart attack can vary drastically from one patient to the next, there are some symptoms that are more common than others. Some of these symptoms include:
- Chest Discomfort: Most patients who suffer a heart attack experience discomfort in the center of the chest that persists for more than a few minutes, or intermittently abates and returns. This sensation can feel like pressure, fullness, pain, or squeezing.
- Pain in Other Parts of the Upper Body: A heart attack victim may experience discomfort or pain at the arms, back, neck, stomach, or jaw.
- Shortness of Breath: The patient may find it difficult to breathe. These symptoms are often chalked up to less serious conditions such as asthma.
- Other Signs: Patients may experience additional symptoms such as pale skin, clammy hands, irregular pulse, low-grade fever, distended jugular vein, cognitive disorientation, and abnormal breathing sounds.
If a patient shows these symptoms, a physician should order further diagnostic testing to determine whether the patient is experiencing heart complications.
What Are Common Reasons for Failure to Diagnose Heart Disease?
Cardiac arrest and other heart issues claim thousands of lives in the United States every year. As such, physicians need to be vigilant about spotting the signs of an attack to ensure patients receive treatment as soon as possible. While most facilities are equipped with advanced diagnostic tools and have developed protocols to make sure heart conditions don’t go undetected, mistakes still happen—and the consequences can be fatal.
Below are a few common reasons heart attacks and cardiac arrest are missed:
- Minor Symptoms: Picture a heart attack; it’s likely you’re imagining a surge of pain, gripping your chest, and collapsing to the ground. However, the symptoms of an attack are not always as obvious. For example, some victims may only experience nausea or abnormally high levels of fatigue. In such scenarios, a physician may not think to test for possible heart complications and will fail to detect this life-threatening condition.
- Normal EKG Results: An electrocardiogram (EKG) is used to test the electrical impulse activity of the heart to check for any irregularities that may suggest the patient suffered a heart attack or has heart disease. However, it’s not unheard of for an EKG to display normal results even after a patient has suffered a serious heart attack. In such situations, the physician may rule out cardiac issues and explore other options.
- Atypical Patient: Heart disease is prevalent among older patients who are at a high risk of developing complications involving this vital organ. Comparatively, young people are far less likely to suffer a heart attack. As such, if someone in their early twenties presents with telltale heart attack symptoms, the doctor may not test for the condition. Alternatively, many women don’t experience the classic signs of a heart attack. For instance, during a heart attack, women may suffer from nausea, sweating, abdominal discomfort, and lightheadedness instead of the radiating chest pain typically associated with the condition.
- Mistaken for a Different Condition: Many symptoms of a heart attack are not unique to the condition. As such, it’s not uncommon for doctors to mistake the signs of heart disease for another ailment. For example, they may chalk chest pain up to indigestion or heartburn.
Common Terms in a Medical Malpractice Claim
Bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be an intimidating task—especially as most claimants are unfamiliar with the complex terms and legal jargon that are commonly involved in proceedings. However, our cardiac misdiagnosis lawyers in St. Petersburg, Florida are on hand to explain the relevant case law, statutes, and important terminology, helping you gain a better understanding of the essential elements of filing a claim.
If you’re feeling confused and overwhelmed, learning a few of these terms may help you make sense of this daunting process. Below are some phrases you may encounter when you file your claim:
- Duty of Care: Healthcare providers have a legal obligation to act with reasonable care. To obtain a financial award in a medical malpractice claim, you must show that a physician or facility breached the duty of care owed to you—i.e. they failed to follow the standards of care applicable to your situation. For example, if you presented with the telltale signs of cardiac arrest, but your doctor failed to order diagnostic tests that a prudent physician in the same situation would have arranged, and this led to further health complications, your cardiac misdiagnosis attorney could argue that your doctor failed to adhere to the applicable standards of care.
- Negligence: In a medical malpractice claim, this term refers to a failure to exercise the level of care a physician of ordinary prudence would take in the same situation. Simply put, negligence is the breach of the duty of care. While the doctor or facility may not have intended to cause you any harm, they could still be liable for your losses due to their negligent actions.
- Causation: This term refers to the thread that connects a physician or facility’s negligence to the losses you’ve incurred. Ultimately, if you are unable to prove that a healthcare provider’s breach of the duty of care led to your damages, you will not be able to obtain a financial award. Your attorney may review your medical records and depose various medical experts to prove causation.
- Maximum Medical Improvement: This term refers to the point in your treatment where your condition is unlikely to improve any further. In some cases, this means the patient has made a full recovery; in others, it could mean that the patient is expected to live with long-term or permanent health issues and limitations. Our cardiac misdiagnosis attorneys might advise you to wait until you’ve achieved maximum medical improvement before concluding settlement negotiations. Accepting an offer before you have a clear idea of the full costs involved with treating your condition could mean your financial award falls short of covering your complete damages.
Connect with a Cardiac Misdiagnosis Attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida
When doctors get it wrong, they often leave patients to deal with the consequences. While a misdiagnosis is not always a sign of malpractice, it’s possible the physician or facility responsible for overseeing your treatment breached their duty of care.
At Emerson Straw PL, our attorneys can help you hold the at-fault parties financially responsible for the damage they’ve caused. To set up a free case review, fill out our contact form HERE or call (727) 821-1500.