December 21, 2011

When a 51-year-old man had severe chest pains, he called his doctor. Instead of advising his patient to immediately go to a hospital emergency department, the doctor scheduled his patient to come to his office a few days later. At the time of the office visit, the doctor gave his patient an electrocardiogram (ECG) and then ordered that he have a treadmill stress test.

The man had his treadmill stress test the next day. One hour later, he died from a heart attack while at work. An autopsy showed that a heart attack was responsible for the man’s death that the ECG missed.

The man’s family filed a medical malpractice claim against the doctor alleging that the doctor’s medical negligence was the cause of the man’s death. The family’s medical malpractice attorney alleged that the doctor should have ordered a cardiac enzyme test that would have timely diagnosed the heart attack before it became fatal.

Earlier this year the medical malpractice jury determined that the man’s death in 2006 was due to the medical malpractice of his doctor and awarded the man’s wife and two daughters $4.6 million in damages that will be reduced to about $1 million after California’s cap on noneconomic damages in the amount of $250,000 is applied to reduce the jury’s award.


What Is A Cardiac Enzyme Test?

When someone has a heart attack, there are certain heart enzymes that leak into the bloodstream due to damage sustained by the tissues of the heart. A blood test can determine the levels of cardiac enzymes in the blood that can help determine if someone has suffered a heart attack. This is important because a heart attack can trigger sudden cardiac arrest, which is often fatal. This appears to be what happened to the Los Angeles man.


What Should You Do If You Have Symptoms Of A Heart Attack?

The American Heart Association website recommends as follows:

Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number.

Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. It is best to call EMS for rapid transport to the emergency room.

If you or a family member suffered a misdiagnosed heart attack, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. Click here to visit our website, or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959, to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim and to represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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