Articles Posted in Failure to Diagnose Cardiac

When problems develop during childbirth most assume the same thing: I hope the child is OK. However, a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that we also need renewed focus on possible harm facing mothers during a birth.

Of course, in the past, childbirth has always been an incredibly dangerous time for mothers. In less developed parts of the world the material death rate remains shockingly high. While we recognize the risk elsewhere, in the United States there is a somewhat unacknowledged assumption that mothers will be fine during a delivery. The high risk of death during childbirth is a thing of the past–now the risk is very small.

Obviously vast improvements have been made over the decades on this front, but the problem has not gone away entirely. In fact, in some ways the risk of harm to the mother during childbirth has increased in recent years. It is vitally important that all of us understand this risk and that medical professionals act reasonable at all times to ensure mothers are not hurt in preventable ways as a result of inadequate response to maternal health complications during a birth.

Diagnostic Imaging, a publication geared toward radiologists, published an interesting story discussing trends in the most common medical malpractice cases where radiologists are named as defendants. Of course, being a defense-oriented report, the story frames the details in certain ways, but the underlying statistics are useful to understand common examples of medical errors in the field.

The article summarizes a report published in the journal Radiology which found that failing to diagnose breast cancer was the single most common medical mistake among radiologists. The data in this research project found that about three to four patients out of every 1,000 fell victim to a misdiagnosis of breast cancer. In virtually all of those cases the signs of the cancer should have been caught by the medical professionals but were missed. The patients are usually diagnosed later, with the delay in treatment having varying effects on the long-term harm and ability to fully recover.

Beyond that, misdiagnosis in all forms was far and away the most common mistake which led to a malpractice lawsuit for radiologists. Besides breast cancer, failure to catch non-spinal fractures was the second-most common missed reading. That was followed by spinal fractures, lung cancer, and vascular disease. When all misdiagnosis mistakes are combined, anywhere from 14 to 15 patients per 1,000 are affected. This is not an insignificant number, meaning that thousands are harmed by this problem every year.

In March of 2006, a man arrived at the Alton emergency room complaining of tightness in his throat, neck pain, blurred vision, and tightness in his chest. All of his symptoms pointed to an aortic aneurysm. However, doctors failed to properly examine the gentleman, and shortly thereafter he died from heart complications.

By definition, medical malpractice lawsuits arise when health care professionals are negligent in their care, and their acts and/or omissions not only violate accepted standards, but cause harm to the patient as well. Often hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other types of health care providers are covered by a form of professional liability insurance to offset the costs of lawsuits that occur as the result of malpractice.

But liability insurance serves another purpose: the costs of future medical care may be enormous if the injury is pervasive; but more than that, though money can never replace the life of a lost loved one, monetary penalties may serve as a message to health care professionals, motivating them to change their practices to avoid future litigation.

Long Island Business News reported today on the judicial verdict in a malpractice case that was recently handed down. The lawsuit was filed against two doctors for their negligent post-op treatment which resulted in years of health problems for the unsuspecting medical victim.

Several years ago the patient underwent cardiac bypass surgery at St. Francis Hospital. Following the operation the victim suffered from what is known as a cardiac tamponade. It arises when there is bleeding into the chest following a heart procedure. Unfortunately, the two doctors charged with his care failed to diagnose the dangerous condition. That mistake allowed pressure to build in his chest without relief, leading to cardiac arrest.

The complications required a second cardiac surgery and a subsequent 2 ½ years of hospital stays and rehabilitation requirements. Many other troubles arose stemming from the initial mistake including nerve damage, brain injury, kidney failure, a trachostomy, bed sores, and sepsis.

The man filed a malpractice lawsuit against the negligent doctors for their treatment. After the trial the judge found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding him $7 million for his losses.
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KTBS.com recently reported on the prevalence and consequences of medical error involving misdiagnosis of cardiac problems in female patients.

As the report indicated, a misdiagnosis can occur in several forms: diagnosing the patient with the wrong condition, failing to diagnose anything at all (missed diagnosis), or delaying diagnosis and allowing complications to develop.

One of the most deadly forms of misdiagnosis involves heart health. A recent study discussed in the article points to the fact that doctors are much more likely to miss critical heart problem warning signs in female patients than in male patients

A trial began yesterday in a medical malpractice case alleging that a doctor’s failure to properly read an echocardiogram test lead to the heart attack death of a popular elected official in Ithaca, reports the Ithaca Journal.

George Dentes was a well-liked figure in his hometown. He was elected District Attorney of the county for fifteen years until his retirement in 2005. Always in good shape, Mr. Dentes was a former all-state high school football player, known for walking to work every day that he was on the job. However, in October of 2006 Mr. Dentes had a heart attack at home from which doctors were unable to save him.

Following his death, Mr. Dentes widow contacted a medical malpractice attorney and filed suit against Mr. Dentes doctor. The suit alleges that the doctor failed to properly read a recent echocardiogram test, commonly known as a “stress test,” which should have revealed that Mr. Dentes had heart disease. Had the doctor noticed the medical issue following the test, surgery could have been performed that could have saved Mr. Dentes life.

A physician was held accountable in a wrongful death lawsuit for neglecting to diagnose a patient. The patient died of a dissected aorta and bled to death. The patient asked the doctor to see a cardiologist at the hospital but was never given that opportunity. On the same day he was discharged from the hospital, he died. The man’s estate was awarded $1.5 million in the medical malpractice lawsuit.

Read more about the medical malpractice award here.

A Chicago medical malpractice attorney, John Perconti, stated in a press release that a settlement had finally been reached on behalf of Octavia Shealey, a Chicago hospital patient who died from cardiac arrest. The settlement reached $ 5,350,000.00 for medical malpractice against Octavia’s physicians. Although Octavia had signs of congestive heart failure after giving birth to her daughter which would implicate she was suffering from postpartum cardiomyopathy, she went undiagnosed. The physicians instead checked Octavia into the emergency room overnight. Not until the next morning did a cardiologist recognize Octavia’s symptoms. This recognition was too late and Octavia died of heart failure within the Chicago hospital walls.

Read more about the Chicago medical malpractice settlement here.

A jury found a negligent doctor caused the death of a pharmacist. The pharmacist visited the doctor four days before his death because he was experiencing chest pain, jaw pain, and anxiety. Instead of concluding the man was having a heart attack, the doctor delayed diagnosis by taking a electrocardiogram. The widow’s attorney said the doctor should have taken reasonable steps to send the pharmacist to the emergency room to be checked out. The pharmacist then died of a heart attack four days later.

Read more about the negligent doctor here.

According to a report, women were 52 percent more likely to experience delayed diagnosis during emergency medical services than men. The emergency medical services’ delay came while transporting the patient to the hospital. No apparent evidence to why this delay was given. However, the article did claim heart conditions in women may not be readily diagnosed by physicians and thus lead to a slower medical response. This becomes a major concern because women’s health depends on timely medical treatment. Delay could lead to serious medical harm.

For the full story, click here.

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