While most doctors have become adept at spotting the telltale signs of heart disease, even these professionals sometimes get it wrong. If you or someone you love was a victim of a cardiac diagnostic error, contact our heart attack misdiagnosis attorneys in St. Petersburg, Florida.
We will review your case for free and, if you have grounds for a claim, we can use the extensive resources at our disposal to help you pursue fair compensation. Call (727) 821-1500 to find out more.
Common Reasons for Heart Attack Misdiagnosis
Heart disease claims thousands of lives in the United States every year. As such, a diligent healthcare provider should be looking for signs of this silent killer when patients walk through the door. While facilities have access to advanced diagnostic tools, it’s not uncommon for mistakes to happen. This is where a heart attack misdiagnosis attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida may be able to help.
Here are a few common reasons heart attacks are misdiagnosed:
- The Patient Presented with Minor Symptoms: In the media, heart attacks are often depicted as a jolt of pain that causes the victim to seize up and collapse. However, heart attacks aren’t always as dramatic, but the effects can be just as deadly. For instance, some patients may only experience abnormal levels of fatigue or nausea. In such situations, the doctor may not think to test for heart issues, leaving the patient at a higher risk of suffering another heart attack or other complications in the future.
- The Patient Was Misdiagnosed: Like most conditions, some of the symptoms of heart disease are not unique to an attack. As a result, this life-threatening condition is frequently misdiagnosed as heartburn, acid reflux, panic attacks, bronchitis, and other issues. For example, young people presenting with heart attack symptoms are more likely to be misdiagnosed than older patients as they do not match the typical risk profile for the disease.
- The Patient’s EKG Is Normal: An electrocardiogram (EKG) measures the electrical impulse activity of the heart, displaying the results on a monitor. Often, if an EKG is normal, physicians will rule out a heart attack and explore other diagnoses. However, electrocardiograms are not always accurate. For example, it’s not uncommon for an EKG to display normal activity after a heart attack.
- The Patient Is Atypical: Some demographics are more likely to have heart attack symptoms that deviate from the classic signs of heart disease. For instance, a woman in danger of suffering an attack may present with pain in one or both arms, sweating, indigestion, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or abdominal discomfort. One study found that women have a 50 percent higher chance than the opposite sex of receiving the wrong diagnosis after suffering a heart attack.
Elements to Prove in a Cardiac Medical Malpractice Case
A misdiagnosis alone is not proof of malpractice; you will also need to show that the healthcare provider or facility breached the duty of care and that this negligence caused you harm. While no two medical malpractice claims are the same, every case shares these four fundamental elements:
- Duty of Care: When you attend a doctor’s appointment, undergo a procedure, or sit down for a consultation, you do so with the expectation that your healthcare provider will treat you to the best of their ability. As such, if you presented with obvious signs of a heart attack, your doctor may have a responsibility to identify these symptoms and arrange for diagnostic testing so that you receive a correct diagnosis.
- Breach of the Duty of Care: Your attorney will need to show that the physician or facility breached the duty of care you were owed. Our heart attack misdiagnosis lawyers in St. Petersburg, Florida will have to provide evidence demonstrating how your healthcare provider deviated from the most widely accepted standards of care applicable to your situation. For example, your attorney may call on expert witnesses such as cardiologists or cardiothoracic surgeons to assess your medical records and provide deposition regarding how your healthcare provider breached the duty of care owed to you.
- Damages: A “missed” heart attack can have a ripple effect across all aspects of your life. Many victims are sidelined from work and social engagements, forced to fork out thousands of dollars for additional care. While you can seek compensation for these losses and many others, you will need to provide proof of the damages you’ve incurred. Evidence can include your medical bills, paystubs, receipts, invoices, a personal injury journal, deposition from expert witnesses, and psychiatric reports.
- Causation: To obtain a financial award, you must be able to demonstrate that you would not have incurred damages if not for your healthcare provider’s negligence. This is known as causation. As such, if a physician’s errors did not lead to any losses—for example, the mistake was addressed before your condition deteriorated—it’s unlikely that you will receive a settlement or verdict.
Can I Use Social Media While My Claim Is Pending?
Social media has become a staple in many of our lives. It’s where we turn to share life’s highlights—and lowlights: the graduations, promotions, parties, and harrowing experiences. After suffering a heart attack, you might want to log onto Facebook or Twitter and let your friends and family know how you are feeling. However, broadcasting the details of this traumatic moment could give your medical provider and their insurance company ammunition to challenge your claim.
At Emerson Straw PL, our legal team may advise you to deactivate your social media accounts so that you don’t post anything that could lead to disputes. However, if this isn’t possible in your situation, here are a few ways you can protect your claim next time you’re online:
- Set Your Accounts to “Private:” A public account is a potential weakness that opposing parties could use to their advantage. In this setting, your posts—including any pictures, comments, and reviews you publish—can be seen by anyone, even those who aren’t in your circles. Switching to “private” on sites such as Facebook will give you a layer of protection against these cyber sleuths. However, you should still be careful about what you post. In some situations, it may be possible for opposing parties to file a discovery request to gain access to comments you’ve made online. Alternatively, someone in your circles could screenshot your posts and share these on a public platform. As a rule, you should never discuss your recovery, the heart attack, or the claim on social media.
- Ignore New Connection Requests: If your account is set to private, opposing parties may attempt to gain access to your social media feeds by sending an invitation to connect. As such, you should screen every new request to make sure you’re not giving your medical provider or their insurer free rein to comb through your posts and gather evidence to challenge your case.
- Avoid Posting Pictures of Yourself: If you’re pursuing damages after a heart attack misdiagnosis, your online snapshots could expose you to the risks of facing a dispute. For example, images of you engaging in physical activity could be used as evidence to assert that your condition is not as serious as your lawyer claims. Alternatively, if your feed is filled with pictures of you out at a party just a few days after suffering a heart attack, the insurer may argue that you ignored your doctor’s instructions to rest and thus are liable for some—or all—of your damages.
- Skip the “Check Ins:” Checking in on websites such as Facebook lets you broadcast your activities to those in your circles. While this is an easy way to give friends and family a window into your daily life, it could also spell disaster for your heart attack misdiagnosis claim. For example, if your “check ins” show that you were out at restaurants and bars in the days following the heart attack, it’s likely your medical provider will argue that you are not taking your recovery seriously.
What Should I Bring to My Free Case Assessment?
Sitting down with a lawyer isn’t just a chance to get answers to your questions; it’s also an opportunity for your attorney to review evidence you’ve gathered, assess the merits of your claim, and discuss possible strategies for pursuing damages.
Below are a few items you may want to share with your lawyer during the initial consultation:
- Invoices and Receipts: Damages in a heart attack misdiagnosis case aren’t just limited to your medical bills. This condition can affect many aspects of your life, leaving you to foot the bill for a host of unanticipated expenses. For example, you might have to hire a nanny to take care of your children while you recover, make use of alternative transportation, or invest in home modifications to accommodate limitations stemming from your condition. Many of these costs could be recoverable as part of your medical malpractice case. You should track such damages by compiling all financial documents related to such expenses. Your lawyer can review your invoices and receipts to determine whether these costs could be included as part of the eventual settlement.
- Medical Records: A heart attack can lead to serious complications that can cost a small fortune to treat. Your medical records help illustrate the extent of such damages and the treatment you’ve received thus far. Not only can these documents help you prove the losses you’ve incurred, but your lawyer will likely use your medical records to develop strategies to help you pursue damages. For example, your heart attack misdiagnosis attorney may hire a medical specialist to review your records to determine how your medical provider deviated from the widely accepted standards of care.
- Work-Related Documents: Many heart attack victims are unable to return to work for days, weeks, or even months. Some—due to additional complications—may never be able to work again. You might miss out on thousands of dollars in wages while you’re recovering, a cruel twist of fate as your medical bills continue to add up. Fortunately, you may be able to seek compensation for these lost wages. You must provide proof of such damages by compiling evidence such as letters from your employer, income tax returns, paystubs, and bank statements. Your attorney may want to review this evidence to estimate the value of lost earnings and whether you might also have a convincing case for loss of future wages.
- Correspondence with Your Medical Provider: Any emails, texts, or letters you sent to your healthcare provider or received from physicians at the facility should be shared with your attorney. It’s possible you may have said something that could lead to disputes and your heart attack misdiagnosis lawyer will need to gather evidence and develop strategies to counter such defenses.
Speak to a Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Lawyer in St. Petersburg, Florida
If you believe you were the victim of medical malpractice, turn to the legal team at Emerson Straw PL. During your initial consultation, we can answer your questions, assess your case, and discuss your options for seeking damages. Contact us today at (727) 821-1500 or tap through to our Contact Page to schedule your free case review.